With Barcelona confirming their record-breaking swoop for Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho, the Merseyside team have lost an incredible player. With 54 goals in 201 appearances, the Brazilian was one of the players most instrumental in the functioning of Jurgen Klopp’s offensive tactics.
However, with his departure, not only do Liverpool have a daunting hole in the heart of their attack, but also an eye-catching amount of around €150 million in their pockets from the transfer to spend on a replacement.
With the winter window being a short one, and almost a week having passed, the club will have to act swift and smartly in order to sign a talent that will best carry their season forward.
Regardless of whether or not the signing goes through in the weeks to come, it is no doubt that a replacement is a must, so Liverpool must look into it even during the windows to come.
Here are some players that the Premier League giants could use as a replacement for Coutinho:
1. Thomas Lemar
The 22-year-old was involved in the speculation over joining Liverpool in recent days, and the transfer of Coutinho will add all the more weight to him seeking a move.
Although Monaco were adamant about not selling him during the summer window, the kind of money that the English club will have in its pockets following the transfer could certainly make it hard for the French giants to ensure that the youngster remains a part of their squad if a sizable offer is made.
With Klopp having allegedly assured the starlet of game time at Anfield, the fact that he will be deployed as Coutinho’s direct replacement could certainly aid the efforts of the side. Besides, owing to his age, the Frenchman would be an ideal fit in a Liverpool squad that is hungry for future success.
However, the interest of Arsenal, as well as Monaco’s hesitancy to sell, could still prove to be a tough roadblock to navigate.
2. Riyad Mahrez
A slightly older talent to populate the list, and this is one that is a proven danger man in the Premier League. With news of Coutinho’s transfer still fresh, many sources are claiming that Liverpool have already contacted Leicester City over the availability of their star Algerian.
The 2016 PFA Player of the Year was a headstrong factor in the Foxes taking home Premier League glory, but in the lackluster seasons since, the winger-cum-forward is yet to see that kind of brilliance aped by his teammates.
With the likes of Kante and Drinkwater having already made the hop to other clubs, much speculation loomed over the possibility of his moving, with European and English clubs alike vying for his signature.
But with Liverpool’s advanced position in the league in contrast to the Foxes’ lack of consistency, it certainly seems like a wiser option for Mahrez to move to Anfield and make his talents useful there.
3. Manuel Lanzini
The West Ham attacking midfielder is another talent that Liverpool have been said to be pursuing from a few weeks now, in light of Coutinho’s initial uncertainty over a move.
However, his recent antics have led many Liverpool fans to comment that he is the perfect fit for their squad, and for the gap left behind by the Brazil international.
At 24, the Argentine is yet to taste the prime of his career, and despite West Ham’s on and off attempts at greatness in the English game, Liverpool will certainly be a more tested and apt destination for him to spend his definitive years at.
However, there have been concerns regarding his consistency, and that might be a factor for Klopp to give heavy weight to before making a split-second decision. Apart from that, the youngster is renowned for his dribbling skills, and would make a valuable addition to their roster, if West Ham are inclined to make the sale, that is.
4. Julian Draxler
Another player on the cusp of his prime years, but one whose talents have been proven and tested on the grandest stages, and as of such, also a player that won’t come for cheap.
While Arsenal have been most vocally in pursuit of the 24-year-old, Liverpool could still make a last-ditch effort to sign him. Although, at this stage in the intended negotiations to the London club, a financially better offer is perhaps the only tool left in Liverpool’s arsenal to disappoint the Gunners.
His style and speed are arguably the most identical to Coutinho’s amongst the list, and the fact that Europe’s elite seems to be in perpetual pursuit of his signature certainly speaks volumes of the kind of asset he could prove to be should Klopp manage to pull off the purchase.
5. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
As is often the case with most sides in the modern era, if Liverpool wish to play it smart and economical, then they needn’t look further than their own roster to land the potential replacement for Coutinho in the long run.
For all we know, that was precisely the motivation behind Klopp making the signing from Arsenal earlier on in the summer, with it often seeming that Coutinho would depart any day at that point. However, that was not to be, and many Arsenal fans rejoiced at letting go of the 24-year-old at that point.
But fast forward to the present day, and his skills and dribbling prowess certainly imply that a long-term future can be sought out for him as a Red, and his role might be a lot more crucial than initially fathomed.
Following the Neymar transfer inflation, none of the above talents are bound to come for cheap, as indicative of Coutinho’s price tag as well. As of such, despite the considerable cash in their coffers, it would certainly be in Klopp’s best interest in utilizing the Ox as the playmaker in place of Coutinho, at least for the short term.
The domino effect that is on the cusp of occurring due to the record-breaking transfer simply cannot be denied. On one hand is the kind of move Liverpool will make to ensure his departure isn’t a major hindrance in their plans, and on the other, the way Europen clubs will seek to respond to the sort of offer that some of their talents are likely to receive in the coming weeks.
Written by Naveen Kelvin
A writer trying to craft the poetry within football. Purpose in life is to Make Good Art.