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 (1/3) – Wingers
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.
- They bring in a specialist wide-forward
If Liverpool decide to invest the £140m from Coutinho on a wide forward, they will be relying on Adam Lallana and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlin to provide the creativity in midfield they need. If Klopp is happy to do this, here are three interesting players they could realistically bring in.
Lucas Moura – PSG
It is strange to think of PSG needing to sell players. Yet, after their mammoth shopping spree in the summer, they need to balance the books. One way for them to do this is to offload a player like Lucas Moura.
Moura seems to have been around forever, yet he is still only 25, the same age as Coutinho. Moura was seen as the next great Brazilian winger but never lived up to the potential he demonstrated in Brazil. His style of play differs from Coutinho and is more in line with Sadio Mane. He is blessed with tremendous speed and dribbles past players at will. He has a fierce shot, yet his goal record of one in five could be better. Moura would only add to and increase the speed of the Liverpool counter-attack.
Moura would most likely be interested in any advances made by Liverpool after not starting for PSG in the league this season. Any chances for him to make the World Cup will rely on him playing football. That is not going to happen at PSG.
Gelson Martins – Sporting Lisbon
The young Portuguese wide-man has the pace and attacking intent to fit him into Liverpool’s electric attack. Martins plays as a more traditional wide-man and would give Liverpool more natural width than Coutinho did. Martins is strong defensively, so much so, that he has filled in at right-back in the Portuguese youth sides.
Last season, as a 21-year-old, he registered an impressive return of six goals and nine assists. His ability to provide assists shows he is far more than just speed. This return brought him to the attention of bigger teams across Europe. He was linked to Liverpool as an alternative to Mohamed Salah. Yet Martins is still not the finished article and would need time to develop.
With a €60m release clause, Martins is expensive for a still raw talent. However, Sporting are keen to renegotiate and push that clause even higher. If Liverpool wish to bring him to Anfield, now is the time.
Malcom – Bordeaux
Liverpool brought Coutinho to Liverpool as a young 21-year-old Brazilian talent and developed him. If they are looking to do the same thing again, Malcom is the player to do it with.
Not even 21-years-old yet, Malcom is full of potential and ready to move to a big club. Again blessed with great pace, Malcom has the ability to run with the ball and draw in defenders, winning his side a lot of free-kicks in good positions. He also has the quality to take advantage of these set pieces. His return for such a young player is fantastic, with seven goals and two assists already this season.
Much like Coutinho was when he first arrived, Malcom struggles to affect games consistently. He shows the potential to eventually move into attacking midfield and dictate play. However, for now, he would play from out wide.
With €60m suggested as enough to get Bordeaux to do business, he would leave Liverpool with money for other positions. Yet, Liverpool will be wary of investing time developing another young Brazilian who may then be lured away to Barcelona or Real Madrid as he reaches his prime.