Philippe Coutinho’s £146 million move to Barcelona is perhaps one of the most predictable transfers in recent football history. Coutinho knew it was going to happen, Barca and Liverpool knew it was going to happen, and for the most part – the fans saw it coming.
Make no mistakes, Liverpool have had plenty of time to prepare themselves for the Brazilian magician’s departure, and while the club don’t necessarily need to invest in new players in January, we can expect to see some top talents heading to Merseyside before the start of the 2018/19 season.
When it comes to spending big, Liverpool have made some questionable decisions over the years. For every Luiz Suarez there has been an Andy Carroll, and while Mohamed Salah has proven to be an inspired choice, signing Virgil van Dijk for £75 million has certainly raised a few eyebrows. With that in mind, we’ve decided to help take the pressure off Jurgen Klopp, by picking six players that will help Liverpool fans forget Coutinho ever existed.
In the current climate, if you’re quick and French, you’re almost guaranteed to be worth over £100 million. Lyon’s Nabil Fekir is both of those things; however, the 24-year-old is one of the few players with the talent to back up his inevitably ridiculous price tag. Fekir has scored 13 goals in 16 league matches for Lyon this season, with only veteran strikers Edinson Cavani and Radamel Falcao netting more goals in Ligue One. Fekir has also racked up more assists than both of the aforementioned strikers combined, without the likes of Neymar, Mbappe, and Moutinho lending a hand. Come the end of the season, Lyon are certain to get some huge offers for their talismanic striker, and if Liverpool are smart, they will bring him to Anfield while they have the funds to do so.
Speaking of pacey Frenchmen, Thomas Lemar is another future star that Liverpool should definitely be considering at the moment. Lemar may not have the goalscoring record of Nabil Fekir, but what he lacks in output, he completely makes up for in versatility. The 22-year-old can play on both wings, is adept as a central midfielder, good with both feet, can dribble, pass and is an excellent set-piece taker. The Frenchman’s impressive link-up play would fit right in with the likes of Salah, Mane, and Firmino, and if Liverpool are looking to establish a new ‘Fab Four’, there are few candidates that fit the role as well as Lemar.
German winger Julian Draxler was tipped as one of Europe’s highest potential talents when he signed for PSG for £35 million in 2016; however, with the French giants signing both Neymar and Mbappe last summer, Draxler has struggled for playing time this season, often being used as a late substitution. Draxler is tall, quick, two-footed, brilliant in one-on-one situations, and at 24-years-old, has plenty of time to reach his full potential. While he may not be a ready made replacement for Coutinho, adding Draxler to the ranks could benefit Liverpool for years to come, and considering his current role as a bit-part player, the Reds would not have to break the bank to bring him to Anfield.
Leon Goretzka is a name that has been cropping up everywhere over the last couple of weeks, with Barcelona, Man United, and Arsenal all rumoured to be plotting big money moves for the German midfielder. Having broken into Schalke’s first-team in 2015, Goretzka is fast becoming one of the hottest talents in the Bundesliga, and was even described by a former coach Peter Neururer as ‘the talent of the century’. Goretzka’s key appeal is his versatility, looking just at home on the wing as he does in a defensive midfield position. His effortless passing and powerful long shots have led to comparisons with Paul Scholes, and with Liverpool losing one of their key creative forces in Coutinho, given time Goretzka could potentially fill that void.
It’s no secret that Alexis Sanchez is keen for a move away from the Emirates, and while Man City are the clear frontrunners to sign the Chilean, there has been no formal agreement between the two parties. Sanchez gets a lot of criticism at Arsenal, but on his day, he is one of the world’s best, and that is essentially what Liverpool have just lost – a player that can make a difference in big matches. Joining Man City would be a tempting prospect for any footballer, yet Liverpool can offer Sanchez something that City can’t – the starring role. Sanchez would be just another player at the Etihad, but at Anfield he would be held in the same regard as Coutinho. With Sanchez’s contract running out next summer, he will be going for a cut price rate. This could be a great bit of business for Liverpool.
Granted, a goalkeeper isn’t exactly a replacement for Philippe Coutinho, but now that Liverpool have a tonne of cash to play with, it’s time to finally address one of the most glaring issues in their squad. Mignolet and Karius are ‘good’ goalkeepers, but you’re never going to win titles with ‘good’ goalkeepers – the world’s top clubs have the world’s top players, and goalies are no exception. Courtois, De Gea, Cech, Ederson, and Lloris are all a level above what Liverpool have at the moment, and Jurgen Klopp has put too much faith in his men between the sticks. It’s time for a change, and that change has to start at the back.
Of course, top keepers are hard to come by at the moment, but Atletico’s Jan Oblak, Inter’s Samir Handanovic, and Schalke captain Ralf Fahrmann are all be obvious upgrades.