Many Liverpool supporters have been calling for manager Jurgen Klopp to make a move to bring in a replacement for Philippe Coutinho during this month’s transfer window. The German allowed the playmaker to join Barcelona in a deal worth a reported £145m – which means that he should have some money available to sign a successor to the Brazil international. But who could he look to bring in this week before the deadline closes on Wednesday evening?
Thomas Lemar (AS Monaco)
The France international has been linked with a move to Anfield all season after a late Summer bid was reportedly made by the club. The twenty-two year old was a target for both Liverpool and Arsenal as the transfer window closed at the start of the season and his name has continued to come up in the media since. The French champions refused to allow him to move on after selling a raft of star players following an excellent 2016/17 season. They are said to have softened that stance, but are pricing Lemar out of an exit by placing a £90m price tag on his shoulders. Liverpool are not going to shell out that kind of money for a player who would represent quite a risk at that price. He is still relatively young and hasn’t played outside of Ligue 1. Lemar has contributed just three goals and five assists so far this season and that kind of return does not inspire the fee being asked for his services. In fairness to him, Monaco are not the side they were last season and so he isn’t playing with the same calibre of player, but they are riding high in fourth place in the Ligue 1 table. He does feature in a similar position to Coutinho and would offer the kind of attacking threat that Klopp would be happy to add to his squad. But all the time Monaco are asking for the kind of money they’ve quoted, a deal won’t happen.
Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City)
The Algeria international is an obvious consideration and has been regularly linked with a switch to Anfield during the transfer window. Klopp would need to make some tactical tweaks to bring the twenty-six year old into his side and it wouldn’t be a cheap deal to get done. Leicester are not keen on letting their star man go this month, despite agreeing to sell him in August, and would dig their heels in over a deal. Mahrez would offer the attacking guile that has been missing from the defeats against Swansea City and West Brom in the past week, but there would be big question marks over his pressing and defending. Klopp likes to have players who will put in a shift when his side doesn’t have the ball and Mahrez is not a player who appears to work hard enough for a gegenpressing system. He does however offer plenty of Premier League experience, has scored and assisted plenty of goals and was the PFA Player of the Year when Leicester won the title a couple of years back. While Klopp may well see Mahrez as a gamble too far, given his price and lack of tactical discipline, he would bring the creativity that many fans feel is lacking without Coutinho. He would be available for the Champions League, which would be a plus in his favour.
Nabil Fekir (Lyon)
The France international is a player who is developing quite a following among Liverpool supporters. He is performing very well from an attacking midfield position for the Ligue 1 side and is enjoying a season full of goals – but not as many assists. Fekir has contributed a total of nineteen goals for his side so far this season, which is an impressive return from twenty-five games across the league, French cup and Europa League. But his tally of just four assists suggests that he may not be the playmaker that Klopp needs to help bring back what appears to have been lost in the sale of Coutinho. It could also suggest that the strikers at Lyon aren’t clinical enough – and that fact he has created forty-two chances may well support that view. Fekir, like Mahrez, isn’t known for his pressing game, which could be another reason that Klopp may decide to overlook a deal for the twenty-four year old. He is the star player for the French club and they would be resistant to doing a deal during this transfer window. Fekir could be added to the Champions League squad if he signs.
Manuel Lanzini (West Ham United)
The Argentina international has been tentatively linked with a move to Anfield over the past year or so and isn’t dissimilar to Coutinho in style. He would offer Premier League experience, having played almost eighty games for the Hammers, and also features in a similar position to the one Coutinho occupied at Anfield. Lanzini has only managed to provide nine assists so far during his spell in England, but he has been playing behind some very ordinary strikers. He has contributed seventeen goals in those seventy-nine appearances, which isn’t a bad return, with two of them coming in games against Liverpool. Question marks remain over his work ethic and West Ham would not been at all keen on letting him move on, so the fee would likely be too high for a player that would represent quite a risk. Unlikely that he is on Klopp’s radar. He would be another player who could be registered for the Champions League.
Julian Draxler (Paris Saint Germain)
Draxler was offered the chance to move to Anfield when he joined the French club in January last year. He turned down the opportunity to play for Klopp and that is likely to be a factor still. The Germany international has been a peripheral figure in the French club’s team since signing for them, with almost half of his outings this season coming from the bench. He has managed to score just three times so far, with four assists being added to his record. With Spurs on the verge of signing Lucas Moura from the Ligue 1 leaders and Inter closing in on Javier Pastore, they’re unlikely to be looking to move Draxler on this week and so making a move to sign him could be futile from the start. He would be a good addition to Klopp’s side, but may have ended his chances of becoming a Liverpool player by rejecting that opportunity a year ago. He would be ineligible for the Champions League having already played for PSG in the competition, and that’s another reason why they’d be likely to decide against letting him go.
Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen)
Brandt’s is a name that hasn’t been linked much with Liverpool this season. He was touted regularly as a target a year ago, but he decided to stay with the Bundesliga club for this season. And it looks like he will continue to ignore interest from bigger clubs after his father, Julian, said that his son would be remaining where he is next season. Klopp’s interest in the German may well have cooled anyway, since Brandt has had an underwhelming campaign so far. He has managed just five goals and two assists so far this season and that isn’t likely to encourage Klopp to take the plunge this week. The young winger would not find securing a place in the Liverpool side easy, but he does occupy a similar position to that Coutinho played for Klopp.
Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)
The American teenager was another Bundesliga heavily linked with a move to Anfield last year, but Dortmund refused to consider letting him follow Klopp to Anfield. The youngster is another who hasn’t had the kind of form to encourage people to believe that he could come in and cover the absence of Coutinho. He has contributed just three goals and one assist in the Bundesliga so far this season, with an additional goal being scored in the German Super Cup. A move for Pulisic will have to wait for later, if it is to materialise. He also supports Manchester United and has attracted their interest as well, so that could be another spanner in the works for a reunion with Klopp. Dortmund would also demand a hefty fee to let him go.
The Brazilian has made a good start to life in the Premier League with Watford. He has scored five goals and added four assists so far this season and has garned plenty of admirers off the back of it. His tackling and pressing stats are impressive and look well suited to the kind of system Klopp deploys. Watford are unlikely to want to let their newly founded star move on this week, but Richarlison appears disappointed by the sacking of Marco Silva and could be disillusioned enough to push hard for the move – which is likely in either case. It’s unlikely that he would command a ridiculous fee, despite the timing of a potential move, but isn’t an obvious replacement for Coutinho in a deeper role. Is better suited to play a wing role and would not dislodge Salah or Mane in a hurry. He does fit the bill of being young and talented, however, and that would likely appeal to Klopp and FSG.
The twenty-four year old Brazilian is available at a knock down price thanks to a release fee in his contract. A price tag of around £17.5m means that he could be signed this week with a lot less hassle than the other names on this list, but it seems unlikely that Klopp fancies the idea of replacing Coutinho with his compatriot given that the straightforward nature of any deal would surely have meant it would already have happened. He occupies a more advanced attacking position than the one Coutinho played for Liverpool and that is likely to be another mark against a transfer bid. Would be better suited to coming in as a backup for compatriot Roberto Firmino than as the player to supply him with chances.
Naby Keita (RB Leipzig)
Yes, he’s already been signed and will become a Liverpool player at the end of the season – but he is clearly the number one target for Klopp this month. The issue with bringing forward his switch to Anfield is that the German club are steadfastly refusing to allow that to happen. They are determined to qualify for the Champions League again and see Keita as a key factor in helping them to do so. By allowing him to head for Merseyside early, they would be jeopardising their chances of getting back into the elite competition. They are currently locked in a race for a qualification spot with most of the top half of the German league table and the chance to secure an extra £10m-£15m by selling Keita early isn’t going to turn their heads. Unfortunately.