The Reds’ defensive frailties were in the spotlight once again on Wednesday as they let another lead slip to draw 2-2 with Sevilla in the Champions League.
Jurgen Klopp’s men have conceded eight goals from their opening four Premier League games this season, and their sloppy back-four was exposed again as Sevilla scored from their only two shots on target.
The club have come under criticism for failing to address the side’s glaring defensive issues in the summer, as they missed out on top target Virgil van Dijk yet still managed to sign a number of big-money attacking players.
One of Liverpool’s main battles was to keep hold of Coutinho, who was the subject of three big-money offers from Barcelona with the last believed to be in the region of £114million.
The Brazilian came off the bench on 75 minutes against Sevilla to make his first appearance for Liverpool this season – his first time in club colours since submitting a transfer request.
But Saunders believes it would be more beneficial to sell the playmaker and use the funds to strengthen where they need it most – at the back.
Speaking to talkSPORT host Jim White, the former Reds striker said: “If Liverpool want to win trophies, if they want to get to that next level, they need to improve their defence.
“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.”