Close sidebar

Why There’s No Guarantee That Liverpool Will Replace Philippe Coutinho In January

After a long period of intense speculation, Liverpool finally lost their number ten on Saturday as news broke of Philippe Coutinho’s move to Barcelona.

Although still not quite 100% over the line, barring any monumental hiccups the Brazilian playmaker will be featuring for his new club in next week’s Copa del Rey clash against Celta Vigo.

So while attention in Spain will now turn to finally seeing Coutinho “light up Camp Nou” as Nike put it in that website slip-up last week, Liverpool have been left £142m better off but with a huge hole to fill in the starting lineup.

For Jurgen Klopp and his Reds, the show must go on. Coutinho must be treated as a dot in the rear view mirror – they can thank him for what he has done for the club since joining five years ago, but he must be consigned to the Anfield history books as soon as possible. Clinging to the memory of a departed superstar was a mistake that they made with Fernando Torres and Luis Suarez, and it’s Klopp’s job now to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

The natural assumption now is that Liverpool will reinvest the bulk of that money immediately in order to maintain their Premier League top four push. There is an argument, of course that £75m of that money has already been spent on Virgil van Dijk – and while the timing of both deals does hint at that, Liverpool have a net spend of around £30m over the past two years not including the Coutinho and Van Dijk transfers. By Premier League standards that’s small, by top six standards it’s minuscule.

Therefore, it stands to reason that the money is there for Klopp to use – but that’s no guarantee that he will spend it. The summer transfer window just gone should be proof of that.

Liverpool’s main two transfer targets were known all summer long – Klopp wanted Van Dijk and Naby Keita, and the whole world knew it. It didn’t matter how often Southampton and RB Leipzig came forward and said that their players weren’t for sale, it didn’t even matter that the former nearly reported Liverpool to the Premier League for their illegal approach, it didn’t matter how many alternatives were drawn up by the media and agents – it was Van Dijk and Keita or nobody.

And Klopp was true to that word. The transfer deadline came and went, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain proved to be the Reds’ only bit of incoming business that day. Although the midfielder has since proven to be a good buy, fans were still left highly frustrated that a centre-back wasn’t made more of a priority.

Klopp’s stubbornness was, many had predicted, going to be his downfall. Liverpool’s defence was a glaring weakness in their squad and because he refused to budge from one player then they were going to suffer for it.

Four months and a club-record £75m later, however, Klopp got his number one defensive target. In the summer, he’ll be welcoming his number one midfield target when Keita completes his £60m transfer. These show that Klopp is quite prepared to wait it out to get his primary targets, even if it affects the team negatively in the short term.

That will apply in this transfer window too. The wisdom of selling Coutinho in this transfer window should be called into question, and if Liverpool don’t have new expensive playmaker in their ranks by the end of the window then the cries of frustration will grow louder.

But that doesn’t mean that Klopp will sign anyone. As was the case in the summer, he will have his main target. The fact that Coutinho’s departure was in the pipeline for months made it easier to identify a replacement, but not necessarily more likely that they will be able to sign him this month.

More than most, the German has never been one to bow to the demands of instant gratification. Listen to him for any great length of time and the implication is clear that the majority of what he does in the roles he takes is for sustained success – it’s not about the here and the now, and replacing one expensive superstar with another just for the sake of it would be far too simplistic an approach as far as he’s concerned.

The main two would-be replacements talked about so far have been Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez and Thomas Lemar of Monaco. The former, according to reports in France on Saturday night, was due in for a medical on Sunday but Liverpool have been so eager to distance themselves from that rumour they are either desperate to avoid a repeat of the Van Dijk fiasco or they’re going out of their way to hurt Mahrez’s feelings. Either way, it feels like a non-starter.

The latter, by all accounts, is a major target, but Monaco have been adamant that they won’t sell in January. That may change if and when Liverpool actually come to the table with a sizeable offer, but for now they aren’t budging.

If Lemar has been identified by Klopp as Coutinho’s replacement, then Liverpool might have to wait until the summer. He could plod on with Adam Lallana and Oxlade-Chamberlain for that role, but that’s Klopp’s way. He’s a perfectionist in many ways; he has a vision and if nobody other than Lemar fits into that vision then that £142m will probably be sitting in the bank account until the summer.

Liverpool fans won’t like it, in fact they’ll probably be cursing Klopp’s stubbornness all over again, but the manager will always point to the bigger picture. Whether that’s worth it is open to interpretation.

Sign Up For The LOI Arena Newsletter

Read More About: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.