Jack Hallows brings you his replacement picks if Liverpool do opt to take the option of selling Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho this summer.
So, it looks as if Philippe Coutinho could feasibly leave the club this summer.
While personally, I don’t think this is the end for the Liverpool FC/Philippe Coutinho relationship just yet – I still think he’ll be given a “stay one more year then leave next summer or sit on our bench and risk missing the World Cup” ultimatum – I do think that the Brazilian no.10 will be off come July 1st 2018.
Sadly, I don’t think anyone could come in and be a complete, like-for-like replacement for the Brazilian but there are certainly a handful of players out there who come close, while also bringing their own skill-set to the table.
For a bit of ‘fun’, I decided to have a look for some suitable replacements for the Brazilian and came up with the following shortlist if Liverpool does decide to let Coutinho go this summer.
Julian Draxler – Paris Saint Germain
On paper, Draxler has everything that an attacking midfielder needs to succeed in the English Premier league. He’s tall, an adept dribbler (he completed 73% of his take-ons in the Ligue 1 last season), creative, has an eye for goal and is a confident player not afraid to show off his flair and talent whenever he gets the chance.
Appearing 25 times for the French giants, Draxler scored 10 goals in all competitions and assisting a further three. He was often fielded from the left-hand side in a fluid front three completed by Angel Di Maria and Edison Cavani but can also operate as a ’10’ and likely wouldn’t be out of place playing in one of the ‘floating 8’ positions in Klopp’s 4-3-3.
Standing at 187cm tall, the former Wolfsburg midfielder would also add some extra height and stature to the Reds’ midfield, winning 64% of his aerial duels in Ligue 1 last campaign.
The German only moved to Paris in January after forcing his way out of Wolfsburg but with Neymar’s ludicrously priced move to the French capital, it’s felt that Draxler could be the one to make way from the front three. He’d probably cost an absolute premium but then again, so should Coutinho.
Marco Asensio – Real Madrid
Arguably one of the outstanding young talents in Europe last season, Asensio would be a stellar acquisition for both the present and the future. Despite starting the season as just another young talent, the Spaniard made the most of Gareth Bale’s continued absence and forced James Rodriguez out of the starting line-up with regular ease.
The Spaniard made 23 La Liga appearances last season – starting just 11 of those games – but still managed to score 3 league goals – 10 in all competitions. The 21-year old also contributed 4 assists and completed 55% of his attempted take ons.
The defensive side of his game is also fairly impressive for a player who is generally fielded in the front three as Asensio won 22/44 attempted tackles last campaign, won 5/6 attempted headed duels and averaged one defensive action per 90.
At 21 years of age, there’s still a lot of room for improvement but the player’s ceiling is honestly frightening and under a manager like Klopp who has made his name developing young talent, Asensio would be a stellar pick. He also has a £72m release clause which in today’s market, would probably represent a bargain.
Isco – Real Madrid
If I could pick one player in all of world football as a Philippe Coutinho replacement it would be Isco.
The Spaniard went from strength to strength for Real Madrid last season and became the capital’s golden boy, scoring 11 goals in all competitions and being a heavy contributor to their La Liga and Champions League honours.
He also scored the winning goal in the Super Cup match against Manchester United just days ago and any player who denies them a trophy is a player I’d be welcoming with open arms.
He’s also the closest all round footballer to Coutinho that we could potentially bring in.
Nine assists in La Liga and a further 29 key passes prove his creative potential, while 10 league goals showcase how good he is when he gets into scoring positions of his own. Add to this his dribbling ability – he completed 53/88 take-ons last season – and a pass accuracy of 89% and statistically he looks a more than capable replacement.
He did, however, just pen a new deal at Real Madrid with a release clause of £634m so I guess I’ll just keep saying “I wish.”
Ousmane Dembélé – Borussia Dortmund
If Barcelona does sign Coutinho, why not sign their other target just to spite them?
The Frenchman was a revelation for Dortmund last season, contributing 6 goals and 12 assists from 63 chances created in his maiden Bundesliga campaign with the club, while his pace, dribbling skill – he completed 105 take-ons in the league – and ridiculous level of two-footedness makes him an asset for any front line across Europe.
His attitude may need a bit of work – Barcelona have turned his head so far he seemed to have got lost on his way to training and still hasn’t reappeared – but his talent cannot be called into question. A shift in system to a 4-2-3-1 with Salah up top, Firmino in the ’10’ and Dembélé/Mané on either wing would be a frightening proposition.
He definitely won’t come cheap but if Coutinho is sold then money simply cannot be an object.
Who would you pick as a replacement for the Brazilian if he leaves the club? Let us know in the comments down below!