Michael Mongie takes a look at the business that Liverpool should be seriously considering getting done before the end of the month.
If the last 10 days have taught me anything, it’s that nothing is guaranteed in the world of football. This comes after Liverpool lost 1-0 to Swansea City a week after beating league leaders Manchester City 4-3.
While that on its own is distressing enough, the manner in which the Reds slumped to defeat was truly dispiriting and worrying. With 14 games of the Premier League season still to go, it’s absolutely vital that Champions League qualification is secured.
Philippe Coutinho secured passage to Barcelona two weeks ago and his absence was really felt during a truly dire performance at the Liberty Stadium on Monday evening. With a lack of creative midfielders on the pitch, I was struck by the fact that it really doesn’t seem like Jurgen Klopp has £142 million burning a hole in his pocket.
This could be good and this could be absolutely terrible in the long run if Liverpool fail to finish in the top four and come crashing out of the Champions League.
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As a result, I took the opportunity to have a look at some of the players that Liverpool ought to be having a look at and one or two they should be doing more to bring to the club.
Naby Keita (Yes, I know)
Yes, I know that RB Leipzig have issued that seemingly final statement, declaring that Naby Keita will not join Liverpool until the end of the season.
That said, this is purely because the Reds refused to cough up the cash as they deemed it nonsensical to pay so much money to get a player six months early when they are guaranteed to get him in July.
However, given the complete lack of creativity and invention in Liverpool’s midfield, I think it seems more unwise not to pay the money when there is so much at risk and with the opportunity to win a trophy in the FA Cup, Klopp ought to be paying whatever it takes to have the best possible side going into the business end of the season.
Thomas Lemar (You’ve heard this one before too)
AS Monaco want £90 million for Thomas Lemar but have been hinting the whole month that they would be inclined to sell him for less this month. The Frenchman has not performed to the heights that he did last season this term and will almost certainly move on in six months time.
But for Liverpool, that might be six months late. As I mentioned before, signing a player now, to ensure the season is ended successfully is surely more important than waiting for a bargain in the summer?
I’m not so sure Klopp will agree if Monaco are holding firm on their £90m valuation but the fact remains that the German has very few midfielders capable of unlocking a low block defence.
Riyad Mahrez (Not a new name either – sorry)
The Algerian is a player that might not be as talented as Philippe Coutinho or have as high a ceiling on his potential but I am certain that he is a player that could help unlock stubborn defences.
When West Brom host Liverpool at the weekend, they will be well pleased that the Reds don’t have any creative midfielders but rather workhorses like Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum.
Of course, Adam Lallana is working his way back to full fitness but he has never been the answer conclusively for the Reds. Mahrez has won the Premier League and is a master of the unexpected.
Sign him and Liverpool will surely have better luck against teams that defend deeper.
Nabil Fekir (Bloody good footballer, lads)
Besides the fact that he scored an outrageous free-kick to help Lyon beat PSG at the weekend, Fekir was fantastic on the ball and used his close control to constantly slide away from opposing midfielders.
Incredible! 💥 Should Liverpool be targeting Nabil Fekir as a replacement for Philippe Coutinho?
Goals: 18 ⚽
Assists: 4 👊🏼pic.twitter.com/jvpdHVRMhv
— Rousing The Kop (@RousingTheKop) January 21, 2018
If there is a player that I honestly think is well-suited to be a like-for-like replacement for Philippe Coutinho, it’s Nabil Fekir. Aside from being left-footed, he operates in much the same manner, drifting in from out wide to have a shot or slip a teammate in on goal.
His dribbling, shooting and leadership would all be valuable to this Liverpool team and at 25 years of age, he has his career ahead of him yet. The Frenchman has scored 19 goals this season, while assisting a further 5 for teammates.
Julian Draxler (Remember him, boys?)
Liverpool were linked with the German a year ago but he opted to move to PSG but has struggled to find consistent game time there, making just 11 starts in the league this season.
The 24-year-old would be a great option for Jurgen Klopp and still has a bright career ahead of him even if he has wasted a year on the bench in France. Klopp could help him kickstart things and replace Coutinho in one go.
He has four goals and three assists this season, a respectable return given that he hasn’t been able to find regular football easy to come by.