With Philippe Coutinho being out of the door at Liverpool, the Reds have been left in a situation much like that after Suarez left. The Anfield Talk’s Josh (@MakeUsDreamLFC5) looks at how we should use the gargantuan fee that we have received for the Brazilian.
Before looking at potential signing, I think it’s fair to say that nearly all Liverpool fans would prefer not to be in this situation. However, Coutinho has been sold for a total fee of £142m, with a base fee of £105m. The ideal scenario would have been to keep him till the summer where he could have helped us secure top 4 and progress further in the FA cup and Champions League. It’s important to remember that he is cup tied for the Champion League which makes this transfer that much more frustrating for Liverpool fans.
I think most fans will admit that it’s not the fact he’s going to Barcelona that angers them. It’s the tactics both the player and his new club have used to essentially make Liverpool appear to bow down to their demands into selling him this month.
Although this is a far from ideal situation to find yourself in January with so much at stake, let’s take a look at how Liverpool should reinvest the money. Firstly, I don’t think it’s enough to say that just one player will help fill the burden that has been left. This is mainly down to the fact that Coutinho had essentially mastered two positions during his time under Klopp’s guidance, the left wing role and in a midfield 3. So I guess you could say that we are trying to replace two players rather than just the one. Having the likes of Emre Can (who seems likely to leave on a free transfer to Juventus in the summer), Gini Wijnaldum and James Milner in the starting midfield 3 screams a lack of creativity. Our captain Jordan Henderson is injured, however many have been overly critical of his performances and believe he isn’t good enough. Adam Lallana who has just come back from injury looked rusty and very poor against Everton on Friday night. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is probably the only player who is match fit that currently offers us the creativity and drive going forward now that Coutinho has gone.
If we’re looking for a like for like replacement in terms of style of play, some have suggested Manuel Lanzini from West Ham. Some have also suggested that we try and bring forward the Keita deal as he is a very good dribbler and is a direct threat coming from midfield. However, Leipzig seem reluctant in letting the player leave before the summer. So what should we do? As we can’t sign someone at the same level of Coutinho who plays a similar role, I think we should look at improving a number of positions as it will lessen the impact of the Brazilian leaving. We’re already a goal threat but we definitely need a creative player in midfield to help create chances and open up the defences. Mahrez and Lemar have been the most consistently linked. However, there are conflicting reports regarding both players. Reports in France claimed that Mahrez was set for a medical after agreeing a fee of around £50m. However, journalists in England claim that we have no interest in the player. Even going as far to say that we’ve contacted Leicester to assure them that we’re not interested in the player. Sky Sports are saying that Leicester want much more than the reported £50m fee that we have supposedly offered. But we find ourselves in a difficult position having already sold Coutinho. Clubs know that we have money to spend and being January, clubs seem unwilling to sell their best players (Liverpool obviously didn’t get the memo).
So where does that leave us? James Pearce tweeted “what we’ve seen from Klopp so far shows that if he can’t get exactly who he wants this month then he will wait till the summer.” So perhaps we play the waiting game like we have with Van Dijk and Keita. But the journalist also reiterates what many other English reporters have said that the “club (are) adamant that Mahrez isn’t lined up as Coutinho’s replacement.” Does this mean that Lemar is our number one target? Well, Sky Sports are reporting today that we have no interest in the French international. So will we sign anyone? Jason Burt from the Daily Telegraph says that Liverpool is working on an “interesting” unnamed target. So I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Two other positions where we need improving are defensive midfield and a goalkeeper. Although we haven’t been reliably linked to a defensive midfielder, it is a position many fans believe we are weakest in and is one of the reasons for our defensive failings in recent years is due to the lack of protection from our midfield. We all long for the days when we had a midfield 3 of Steven Gerrard, Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso. A player like Mascherano who can break up the play in front of the defence and isn’t afraid of a tackle is something that Liverpool has lacked since, well, Macherano himself. Alonso on the other hand has brilliant technical ability and a vast passing range which can get you through on goal in just one pass. Then you have Steven Gerrard who just had it all. Although it seems unlikely that we’ll sign a defensive midfielder this January, we like to hope with Emre Can seemingly likely to leave on a free and our current midfield options that we’ll look to bring someone in alongside Keita in the summer.
In regards to a keeper, it is well known, not only by Liverpool fans but any football fans with eyes that Liverpool hasn’t got the best goalkeeping options. Karius to be fair has had very few opportunities and when he has looked good he has only found himself on the bench the following game. Mignolet, we all know is not good enough for Liverpool, he’s had long enough to prove himself and has shown time and time again that he isn’t. So this has led to recent rumours of us being interest in Stoke keeper, Jack Butland and Roma keeper, Alisson. All three have played the same amount of minutes this season in the league (1710 minutes/19 games). The latter would be the more impressive signing, not only has he had more clean sheets for his team this season (9), compared to Mignolet (7) and Butland (2). He also has the highest distribution accuracy at 85% with Mignolet at 75% and Butland at 52%. (The statistics are from www.squawka.com). Also, why not give Firmino a fellow Brazilian to help him feel more at home after his compatriot, Coutinho has gone to Barcelona.
We still have just over three weeks left in the transfer window and I’m sure there will be a new rumour every day. It’s important that we don’t judge the transfer window now but wait till it’s closed because we all know that it could change in a matter of hours. Also, you’d like to think that even though we reluctantly let Coutinho leave that we’d have a plan in place, even though we were hoping it would be in the summer. We just have to hope that we can bring those plans forward. Although we are unsure how things are going to pan out, we all know that we can trust Klopp to do what is best for Liverpool. Let’s just hope we get what’s best for Liverpool now, rather than in 6 months’ time because we still have a lot to play for this season.