With just two weeks of this summer’s transfer window remaining, Liverpool have thus far held their nerve in the wake of Barcelona’s pursuit of Philippe Coutinho.
The Reds at this point have no interest in selling their star asset despite his recent transfer request, and Barca’s bids of £72m and £90m have been flatly rejected as they insist he is not for sale.
However, should Liverpool eventually relent and sell Coutinho to the Spanish giants (presumably for a fee well north of £100m) then it leaves a gap in an already threadbare looking midfield, particularly with Adam Lallana missing for the first two months of the season (at least).
Last season Liverpool would have been looking at wingers as potential Coutinho replacements, but with the Brazilian playmaker set to play in a more central role if he stays, that will be the area that Jurgen Klopp is searching to fill the void (assuming he doesn’t do something crazy and insist he’s happy with the options available to him).
Julian Draxler (Paris Saint-Germain)
This one has previous. Liverpool were seriously interested in Draxler before he ultimately joined Paris Saint-German from Wolfsburg for a reported €42m in January. However, the recent signing of Neymar has reportedly led to manager Unai Emery telling Draxler that his services will no longer be required at the Parc des Prince.
Capable of playing in the centre but more comfortable on the wing, signing the German international would not be overly difficult provided a fee can be negotiated.
Thomas Lemar (Monaco)
Keen to be part of the Monaco exodus but so far still at the Stade Louis II, Lemar has been courted by Arsenal for most of the summer. At least one bid has already been knocked back as the Ligue 1 champions hold out for £50m and while Arsenal are unwilling to go that high, a desperate Liverpool might.
Another who would have to adjust to playing in the centre.
Max Meyer (Schalke)
A highly-experienced midfielder despite still being only 21, Meyer is a player constantly linked with moves to the Premier League, and with his ball retention and dribbling ability in the middle, it’s easy to see why. Schalke would be loath to lose one of their best talents at this late stage of the window but a high enough offer, and offer of Champions League football for Meyer in a World Cup year, could prove too tempting for both parties.
Swap deals are not particularly common, but Barcelona could do a lot worse than try to include Rafinha as part of a deal for Coutinho. The Brazilian was reportedly offered to Arsenal earlier in the window, and while he is not at his compatriot’s level, he would be a fine replacement. His career seems to have stalled as Barca have prioritised new signings over La Masia graduates, but 6 goals from 18 La Liga matches last season is a promising return.
Ben Woodburn (Liverpool)
The risky option. Very risky, in fact. Woodburn dipped his toe into the first-team waters last season, even making his first Premier League start in a 2-1 win at Stoke in April, but it’s important to remember that despite the high hopes for him, he is still only 17. A natural forward, Woodburn was used in (an impressed in) more of a midfield role in preseason so if Coutinho does go and Liverpool don’t sign anyone, Woodburn rotating with Adam Lallana in that role looks a real possibility.