How to Replace Philippe Coutinho (2/3) – Attacking Midfielders

LYON, FRANCE - DECEMBER 17: Nabil Fekir of Lyon during the French Ligue 1 match between Olympique Lyonnais (OL) and Olympique de Marseille (OM) at Groupama Stadium on December 17, 2017 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
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There are two ways to look at the business that Liverpool have just done for Philippe Coutinho. The first is that Liverpool have secured the second highest transfer fee in history for a player who until recently has been inconsistent. The other is that Liverpool have just allowed their best player to leave the club.

How to Replace Philippe Coutinho (2/3) – Attacking Midfielders

Whichever is correct, the Reds now have £142m to go shopping with. But, just like going shopping in the sales in January, what is available is often not worth having.

Yet, there are some players out there. The biggest problem Liverpool have in replacing Coutinho is his ability to play so many different positions. He is a world-class wide forward or attacking midfielder.

Liverpool have three options when deciding on how to replace Coutinho.

  1. They bring in a specialist wide-forward

2. They bring in a specialist attacking-midfielder

3. They bring in a similar versatile attacking player

If Liverpool decide to invest the £140m from Coutinho on an attacking midfielder, they may leave themselves short out wide. Yet if Klopp is happy to do this, here are three interesting attacking midfielders they could realistically bring in.

Nabil Fekir – Lyon

One of the most in-form attacking midfielders in the world, Fekir is setting the French league alight. After Alexandre Lacazette left in the summer for Arsenal, many worried for Lyon. However, Fekir has stepped up and made himself the main man at the club.

Fekir has been a consistent goal threat since he made the step up to the Lyon first team. However, his goal scoring has accelerated, and he has 13 goals in 16 appearances so far this season.

He is strong on the ball for his small stature. He is an excellent dribbler and drifts past players with ease and draws fouls. Fekir can play from out wide but is far more effective as an attacking midfielder. He is able to find space and either create or shoot from distance.

As Lyon didn’t make it to the Champions League, Fekir would be available for the last 16 of the Champions League. This makes Fekir an even more interesting option for Liverpool. However, infamously difficult to deal with, Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas will be aware of this and demand a huge fee for the 25-year-old.

Liverpool have the money to spend, yet convincing Fekir to move may not be the easiest job. Fekir has recently broken into the French squad. He may be unwilling to risk moving without guarantees over his role at Liverpool. Yet if they can convince him to come to Anfield, they would have an exceptional player on their hands.

Javier Pastore – PSG

Luca Moura made it onto the list for available wingers. Javier Pastore is our second PSG player and is available for all the same reasons; PSG’s need to balance the books.

Pastore is another player who has been frozen out at PSG and has seen limited action for the French league leaders.  However, when he has made it onto the field he has performed well. With four goals and an assist in eight league starts. Yet, his long-term future looks to be away from Paris.

Pastore has the ability to draw players to him and lay off passes to bring teammates into the game. He can carry the ball forward well and has a good shot. Yet, he is not the hardest of workers and may struggle with the work rate Jurgen Klopp demands. At 28, his signing would go against the current Liverpool owners transfer strategy. However, with the limited transfer fee that PSG are reported to want, he may be too good an option to miss out on.

Hakim Ziyech – Ajax

A far less well-known name, Ziyech’s performances for Ajax have earned him the right to be in the conversation.

The 24-year-old Moroccan international has demonstrated his creative ability since moving to the Dutch capital. With 19 assists in his 46 performances for Ajax, he has shown he is a top talent. He has the ability to run with the ball and slide precise passes through to the forwards. He has a great passing range and can dictate games.

Doubts will exist over his ability to transfer his form from the Dutch league to the far more competitive Premier League. For every Suarez who has moved, there is a Davy Klaassen at Everton.

Yet in Ziyech there is the potential for Liverpool to get the next Christian Eriksen, who himself came from Ajax.

(Click for part 3)

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