Reports: Liverpool bid €60m for 24-year-old to replace Coutinho
The midfielder created history in the Europa League last season
What's the story?
Liverpool have identified Ajax midfielder Hakim Ziyech as their replacement for Philippe Coutinho, according to a report in British news outlet, The Daily Star. The Moroccan has been scouted by Jurgen Klopp's backroom staff ever since February, and reports in the Dutch press claim that the German manager has sent representatives to hash out a deal. Ajax are looking for a fee in the range of €60 million, especially since Liverpool are likely to be flush with cash if Barcelona are able to complete the deal to bring Philippe Coutinho to the Nou Camp.
Also Read: Why Liverpool should target Hakim Ziyech
In case you didn't know...
Ziyech grew up in the Netherlands and started his professional career with SC Heerenveen, where his performances caught the eye of FC Twente, who signed him in August 2014. Having opted to appear for Morrocco internationally, Ziyech was then signed by Ajax last summer, with the Dutch giants parting with 11 million for one of the best players in the Eredivisie.
The heart of the matter
A creative midfielder by trade, Ziyech was instrumental in Ajax's run to the Europa League final last season, including a match-winning performance in the semi-final first leg against Lyon, where he completed a hat-trick of assists - the only player to ever do so in a semifinal or final in the UEFA Europa League.
Ziyech was involved in a stunning 32 goals for Ajax (12 goals, 20 assists) last season, where he racked up 3834 minutes on the pitch in 46 appearances. Liverpool scouts sent in February have been suitably impressed, with Klopp sending his representatives over to complete a deal as soon as possible.
There is a slight wrinkle in the deal going through - Ziyech played in Ajax's UEFA Champions League qualifier against OGC Nice, and the midfielder will be cup tied and unable to participate if Liverpool get past Hoffenheim in their playoff to make it to the group stages.
While €60 million would be way overpaying for Ziyech, all signs point to Barcelona paying in the region of €100-120 million for Philippe Coutinho. The Reds have previous when it comes to getting a great deal from the Dutch League (see: Luis Suarez), and the Moroccan midfielder would be the perfect long-term signing to replace the goal threat and creative ability of Coutinho in the middle of the park.