Reports: Liverpool in talks with £45m Argentine star to replace Philippe Coutinho
Barcelona edge close to Coutinho as Jurgen Klopp lines up a replacement
What's the story?
With Philippe Coutinho's exit from Liverpool nearing fruition, the Reds have lined up West Ham's Manuel Lanzini as a replacement, according to a report in Spanish news outlet SPORT. Although Liverpool's squad seems teeming with tricky midfielders, Jurgen Klopp is adamant that Liverpool's owners, the FSG Group, replace Philippe Coutinho if they accept a bid from Barcelona. Lanzini would not come cheap - as the Hammers are likely to demand a fee in excess of £40 million, with David Moyes reportedly opposed to the sale of his influential midfielder.
In case you didn't know...
Manuel Lanzini joined River Plate as a 9-year-old, spending his entire youth career at the Argentinian giants before making his first-team debut as a 17-year-old in 2010. After a loan spell with Fluminense, Lanzini surprised the footballing world by signing for Al Jazira in 2014, rejecting multiple offers from Europe. A successful loan spell to West Ham in 2015 resulted in the Hammers parting with £10 million for his services the following season.
The heart of the matter
Lanzini signed a four-year-contract at the start of the 2016/17 season, but the Hammers' hierarchy have been desperate to tie him down to a new, improved contract to ward off interest from top Premier League clubs. Lanzini has reportedly rejected a £85,000-a-week contract offer, with his representatives assured of receiving a higher wage from Liverpool.
The 24-year-old Argentinian's creative abilities have come to the fore this season, with 7 assists in 16 games already. Jurgen Klopp views the midfielder as a player he can improve - and one who could fit into his high-press system with ease.
However, West Ham are naturally unwilling to let the Argentinian go, with David Moyes reportedly unhappy at letting a vital player go with the Hammers just 1 point above the relegation places.
Liverpool have already spent big on Virgil van Dijk, so they will not be averse to dropping the cash on Manuel Lanzini. The Argentinian has always seemed a player who can play for the top clubs, and Jurgen Klopp could be the perfect manager to elevate his game, having already done so with the likes of Sadio Mane and Mo Salah. Philippe Coutinho may be an exceptionally gifted player, but Lanzini could conceivably fill the gap at Liverpool.