Former Liverpool striker Dean Saunders has advised Jurgen Klopp to sanction Philippe Coutinho's sale in January and use the funds in bringing three new defenders in the mid-season transfer window.

The Brazil international has been a transfer target for Barcelona and the player was keen on completing a switch to Camp Nou. The Merseyside club were unwilling to let their star player leave, even after the former Inter Milan man handed in a transfer request.

Coutinho is reportedly hopeful of joining the Catalan club in January. Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu remained coy when asked if his side could make an approach in signing the Liverpool playmaker.

Jurgen Klopp has failed to strengthen Liverpool's defence as Andrew Robertson was the only defender added to the squad. They also allowed Mamadou Sakho and Lucas Leiva leave the club in the summer transfer window.

Saunders wants Liverpool to sell Coutinho for £130m ($174.5m) and bring in new defenders to the club in January. He believes the Reds can only win silverware if they strengthen their defence.

"If Liverpool want to win trophies, if they want to get to that next level, they need to improve their defence," Saunders told talkSPORT.

"One way around that would be to sell Coutinho next summer for £130million and buy three new defenders and a defensive midfield player...and maybe a goalkeeper as well.

"Liverpool's front three are already brilliant, so I'd take the money for Coutinho and that's one way you can get the back-four better.

"I wonder if the manager is sitting there this morning thinking, 'is my back-four good enough to go where I want to go with this team?'

"Would Loris Karius get in Manchester United's team? Would Joe Gomez? Would Alberto Moreno? Would Joel Matip or Dejan Lovren or Ragnar Klaven?

"Go through the seven best teams in Europe, none of those players are getting in those teams, so as a manager you sit there and think, 'are they good enough, and if not what can I do about it?' He could change the way they play to protect them a little bit more, or change the personnel.

"They are not far away, Liverpool. But again, great teams can win games 1-0, and at the moment Liverpool can't do that against the top teams."

Philippe Coutinho
Philippe Coutinho wanted to leave Liverpool for Barcelona in the summer transfer window Getty