Liverpool’s Brazilian magician Philippe Coutinho is arguably one of their most valuable players, with some regarding him as the stand-out performer in a red shirt and the man to look to when the outcome of a game needs altering.
He has been on Merseyside for a number of years, but each season has progressed into an even more vital member of the squad. Now under the tutelage of Jurgen Klopp, Coutinho is starting to score more and more and in important games too, such as the wondrous finishes against Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund in the knock-out rounds of the Europa League, and in the Capital One Cup final too.
Recently, the central attacking midfielder has been linked with a move away from Anfield, with Paris Saint Germain and Barcelona rumoured to be interested.
I personally don’t believe Coutinho should move away, principally because he is not quite consistent enough to make a real impact at a huge Champions League club. Nevertheless, provisions should be made regardless, and here are three players Liverpool could look towards to fill the void Coutinho would inevitably leave should he depart this summer.
The German midfielder was heavily linked with a reunion with Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool earlier this summer, but speculation has died down as it seems like Götze may stay put at Bayern Munich.
However, he is a direct replacement in terms of position to Coutinho, and brings with him a great deal of high level experience having played in the Champions League for a number of seasons and of course he famously scored the winner for Germany in the 2014 World Cup final.
The German is only 24 years of age, but has already won several major trophies, and is able to boast a terrifc passing and goal scoring ability. Plus, it is likely that Klopp will get the best out of him after their successful time together at Borussia Dortmund, rediscovering his best form after not completely winning over everyone at Bayern.
Götze may want to try and impress new boss Carlo Ancelotti and cement a place in the Bayern Munich team, but if anyone can convince him to move on to pastures new, it is Jurgen Klopp.
Hatem Ben Arfa
The Frenchman has had a brilliant season for Nice last time out, scoring 17 goals in 32 games. He can count himself very unlucky not to be in Didier Deschamps’ French squad this summer at the Euros, for on form, he really has been frightening defences for the past few months.
Were it not for the riches that France possess in the same area of the field as him – namely Anthony Martial, Kingsley Coman, and Dimitri Payet – he would surely have been gracing the pitches of his homeland this summer.
Ben Arfa can play as an attacking midfielder or a winger, making him a versatile option, and he clearly has a great eye for goal as well as possessing a number of tricks in his locker. The left-footer is well known for producing the spectacular, whether that be a thunderbolt of a shot into the top corner, or weaving past countless defenders before finishing with aplomb.
However, the Premier League has already seen Ben Arfa, as he played for Newcastle United with a varying degree of success, and also spent half a season on loan at Hull City. Overall on these shores, he was something of a flop, only scoring 13 goals in five seasons in England.
However, at Liverpool, he would be playing with a higher calibre of team mates, and he has turned his career around after being deemed too fat before moving to France, so he may arrive at Anfield in with something to prove.
Mane is arguably the least suited to Klopp’s style of play of all three players listed here, but does have plenty of Premier League experience and is capable of magic, having memorably scored the quickest hat-trick in Premier League history.
The Senegal international scored 10 goals in 2014-15 and then 11 in seven more games in 2015-16, giving him a net return of 31 goals in 67 games in the Premier League for Southampton.
The winger has an explosive right foot, and has the ability to run and charge at defenders, making him a serious goal threat – something which this latest incarnation of Liverpool’s team has not always been able to match.
However, there are question marks surrounding his work rate and willingness to track back, something that is required to pull off Klopp’s Gegenpressing.
Mario Götze, Hatem Ben Arfa and Sadio Mane all represent potential replacements for Philippe Coutinho at Liverpool, but realistically at this time, it is better for both parties if the Brazilian wizard remains at Anfield
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