Reports: Liverpool identify Philippe Coutinho's replacement
Liverpool are preparing for life without Coutinho, and have reportedly lined up an heir to the Brazilian
What's the story?
After securing a world-record transfer for Virgil van Dijk from Southampton (£75 million), Liverpool are still in the market for more players.
Replacing Barcelona-bound Philippe Coutinho is going to be a tough task for Jurgen Klopp, but it seems like that the German international has found his man. According to the Metro, Liverpool have made contact with Leicester City over the possible transfer of Riyad Mahrez.
Speaking about the winger's future, Claude Puel said, "No (he hasn't said he wants to leave). He is happy with the squad. After that, it is speculation. For me, there is no problem. He is happy to play with his team-mates. He loves football."
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Riyad Mahrez wanted to leave in the summer and had even handed in an official transfer request on the deadline day. The Foxes were holding out a fee of £40 million for the player, but Roma were willing to offer only £32 million. As a result, a deal could not be reached and he continued to stay at the club.
Apart from the Reds, Chelsea are also reportedly interested in the 26-year-old and would like to bring the winger to Stamford Bridge this month. Meanwhile, Arsenal and Barcelona have also shown interest in the Algerian.
The heart of the matter
According to reports, Coutinho is all but set to leave for Barcelona this month for a fee of around £142 million. There are also reports that the Brazilian has chosen his jersey no - '7'. And since the start of the winter transfer window, he is yet to play a game for the Reds, adding fuel to the speculation.
The Reds have also been monitoring Thomas Lemar of Monaco, who is believed to be Liverpool's first choice, but they face a strong challenge from other clubs as well, and are yet to make a formal offer for the 22-year-old.
Liverpool seem to be wasting no time in trying to replace Coutinho and want Mahrez to join the club this month itself. While Puel would like to keep the winger, it is believed that the club has told him to sell the player if a satisfactory offer is received.
Replacing a player of Coutinho's standard would be very difficult but Mahrez can surely fit in with the Reds. The 26-year-old has found his form back under Puel after having a bad start to the campaign and has become an important player for the Foxes.
Everything now depends on Coutinho. If he forces a move away from the Anfield, then the Reds would have to do everything they can to replace him and Puel will face quite the challenge of keeping his winger at the club.