Jurgen Klopp has earmarked former Liverpool player Philippe Coutinho as his alternative midfield target in the summer, AS reports. The German manager is already working on his summer plans, as he attempts to ensure Liverpool stay ahead of the competition in England as well as in Europe.
While the Merseyside club has a largely balanced squad at the moment, Klopp is aware that players like Adam Lallana and Xherdan Shaqiri could be tempted to leave Anfield in search of regular playing time. And that means that the Reds have to replenish the squad with like-minded players to maintain the high standards set this season.
Liverpool’s prime target is Kai Havertz, the Bayer Leverkusen midfielder, however, if that deal fails to see the light of the day, the Reds are willing to turn their attentions to Coutinho. The Brazilian’s return to Anfield in the summer is possible, given the fact that he has not found his footing either at Camp Nou or at the Allianz Arena since leaving the Premier League in January 2018.
Price could be a big hurdle for Coutinho’s return to Anfield
Coutinho’s stocks have tumbled in the last couple of years since leaving Liverpool. An underwhelming first full season with the Blaugrana culminated in a loan move to Bayern Munich at the start of this year. However, the Brazilian has failed to impress in the Bundesliga too and it is quite unlikely that the German giants will exercise the €120m option to buy him at the end of the loan deal.
Havertz, on the other hand, is one of the rising stars of European football. The German midfielder rose through the ranks at Leverkusen and is already attracting attention from European powerhouses this season. Liverpool face competition from Bayern Munich for the player’s signature, which has forced Klopp to keep his options open.
In such a scenario, Coutinho might be an easier target for the German manager to explore, but he is unlikely to come cheap. While Barcelona’s exact valuation of the player is not clear yet, it is quite likely that the Catalans will try to recuperate as much as possible of the exorbitant fee they paid Liverpool for the Brazilian in the first place. And that might be the biggest deal-breaker for the Reds.
Although Klopp and Coutinho share a close bond, unless the Reds are willing to meet Barcelona’s valuation of the player, a deal might not be possible.