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Is it Sadio Mane’s job to fill Philippe Coutinho’s boots at Liverpool?

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Sadio Mane

The Philippe Coutinho transfer saga rumbles on but there seems to be an air of inevitability to his exit, not so much ‘if’ he goes to Barcelona, but ‘when’.

Barcelona’s interest in the Brazilian is well known and the player himself has expressed a desire to leave the Merseyside club for Barca, having handed in a transfer request. Whether it be this window or next, there will be a huge void left in the when Phillipe Coutinho does leave the Anfield outfit.

Now, the Brazilian has said that he is willing to sit in the stands for the remainder of the season if his transfer is not sanctioned. Mundo Deportivo have reported that Coutinho will even sacrifice his World Cup place with his native Brazil.

Yet, for all Liverpool might lose if their star man leaves, they don’t have far to look for a replacement.

Sadio Mane is a player who has really put a stamp on the Premier League since he arrived at Southampton in 2014, but the Senegalese star has gone to another level since moving to Jurgen Klopp’s Reds.

The 25-year-old’s speed and directness is crucial to Liverpool and the way they play, and there are few better players in world football at contributing goals and assists from wide areas.

Last season Mane and Coutinho scored the same amount of goals, thirteen, and assisted five and seven, respectively.

It is worth noting, however, that Mane achieved these statistics in significantly fewer games than his Brazilian teammate, as he spent time with Senegal at the African Cup of Nations, before having his season cut short by a knee ligament injury.

The Reds also struggled when the former Southampton star was missing. No one else in their squad had the raw pace to go past their opponent like Mane does. As a consequence, when he left on international duty, Klopp’s side suffered a significant dip in form.

With the arrival of Mohamed Salah, in many ways a similar player to Mane, the Senegalese man has had to make a shift to left-wing, a position that was occupied for a majority of the season by Philippe Coutinho.

However, it is a role not alien to the ex-Southampton man, having played there for the Saints as well as Austrian club Salzburg.

In Mane, Liverpool have a player not only able to fulfil the same role Coutinho did in Klopp’s side, but he can also take on the creative and goal-scoring responsibilities. In the first two games of the season, Mane’s pace on the left, paired with the equally quick Mohamed Salah, has stretched opposition defences.

Losing Coutinho would be damaging to any club, but the Reds’ could well be in a better position than many might think when he finally moves on.

Crystal Palace

Three potential England replacements for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

The Liverpool midfielder has been ruled out of the summer’s World Cup.

Jake Jackman

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Photo: Getty Images

It looked bad for Liverpool and England when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was stretchered off during the first half of the Reds’ game against AS Roma in the Champions League and their worst fears were confirmed on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old has suffered a knee injury, which will keep him out of the rest of the season and this summer’s World Cup.

This is incredibly harsh news to take for the midfielder, who had been playing the best football of his career under Jurgen Klopp.

Last summer, he made a huge career decision as he chose to leave Arsenal to join top-six rivals Liverpool and, in hindsight, it has been a great move for him.

His influence and consistency have stood out from the centre of the park and England would have benefitted from that in Russia.

However, Gareth Southgate needs to readjust quickly and find a suitable alternative to the Liverpool midfielder.

Here are three players that could replace Oxlade-Chamberlain and receive a World Cup call this summer:

Ruben Loftus-Cheek – Crystal Palace

The injury to Oxlade-Chamberlain has opened up an opportunity for Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who will now have a chance of making the plane for Russia.

The midfielder has impressed at Crystal Palace and he delivered an assured performance against Germany on his international debut. Although injuries have hindered his progress since he remains one of the only dynamic midfielders available to Gareth Southgate.

Against Germany, he completed 96.2% of his passes and completed four successful dribbles. There were a lot of people that thought the call came too soon, but he looked at home on the international stage and he will be unknown to a lot of the teams England are due to face.

Oxlade-Chamberlain was going to provide the power and pace in the England midfield. Loftus-Cheek may not be as experienced as the Liverpool man, but he can step up and perform a similar role. If he can finish the season strongly, he will have a great chance of making the squad.

England Training Session And Press Conference

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Jonjo Shelvey – Newcastle United

There are growing calls for the Newcastle United midfielder to be called up by Gareth Southgate and they will only increase with the news of Oxlade-Chamberlain’s injury.

Shelvey won’t be able to step into the same role, but he can provide different qualities and could be a worthy selection for England.

Newcastle’s recent surge up the league table have shown Shelvey in a good light and he has been a major reason for his team’s success.

The 26-year-old dictates the game from deep and has a passing range that can’t be matched by any other English player.

Against Arsenal, he was putting his team-mates in on goal at will and there is a place for his skills in the national set-up.

England have a number of quick attacking players and against better teams, Shelvey would provide a good option.

Southgate will need to set his side up to counter-attack and there is no better player to pick out the runs of Raheem Sterling and Jamie Vardy than the Newcastle midfielder.

There are risks to selecting the 26-year-old, but he deserves to be considered for the summer’s tournament.

(Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Dele Alli – Tottenham

The Tottenham midfielder is going to go to the World Cup. Nobody can debate that, but he has found himself out of the starting eleven during recent friendly matches.

The injury to Oxlade-Chamberlain may benefit him, as there will now be a midfield position up for grabs.

Alli isn’t as comfortable in a central role as Oxlade-Chamberlain, but his goal threat and intelligent movement means that he could step into the starting eleven and play well.

The 22-year-old has had his critics this season, but a return of eight goals and ten assists in the Premier League underline the quality that he provides to a team.

Southgate will need to make sure Alli knows his defensive responsibilities and that the player carries them out to the letter, as England can’t afford to carry a midfield player.

At the age of 22, this summer could be an opportunity to break out for the Tottenham man.

It would be a risk to start him in a deeper role, but the rewards may be worth it.

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English Premier League

Liverpool fans licking lips at potential Mohamed Salah duel with Marcelo

Liverpool v Real Madrid is now the likely Champions League final, and Salah could leave Marcelo exposed.

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Real Madrid are now looking likely to be in the Champions League final against Liverpool after they defeated Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena. After Joshua Kimmich gave Bayern the lead, it seemed the Bavarians might manage to upset the bookmakers and send Real crashing out. But goals from Marcelo and Marcos Asensio saw Real pick up a vital away win.

With Liverpool winning their first-leg against Roma 5-2, the two sides look well placed to make the final in Kiev.

Real Madrid might have won the game, but it was a performance that left Liverpool fans hopeful of facing Los Merengues in the Champions League final.

The Reds currently have perhaps the best player in world football today. Mohamed Salah has been a revelation since joining the side in the summer. Since arriving at Anfield from Roma he has scored 43 goals for the club and put his former side to the sword last night.

(Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

He infiltrated Roma’s weak and attack-minded left side over and over again in the first-leg and Liverpool fans believe he will do the same if they face Madrid.

Whilst Marcelo may have scored in the game, he did not put in the best of performances.

He left an acre of space for Kimmich to run into for Bayern’s goal. He struggled to deal with Thomas Muller at times, but if Arjen Robben had remained on the pitch it is fair to wonder if Marcelo may have had a more torrid time.

Liverpool fans are certainly excited at the prospect of Salah perhaps facing off with Marcelo in the Champions League final. Defending is not the Brazilian’s favourite aspect of his job and fans at Anfield feel that Salah might be able to leave him embarrassed if they go toe-to-toe.

Based on the evidence of the past two nights, it is hard to disagree with the Liverpool fans who feel Salah can leave Marcelo trailing…

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Championship

Kevin Stewart has not proven Liverpool wrong for £8 million sale

Liverpool sold the midfielder to Hull City in the summer.

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Photo: Getty Images

In the summer Liverpool decided to let midfielder Kevin Stewart leave the club. The 24-year-old had caused a stir when he followed Academy Director Alex Inglethorpe from Tottenham Hotspur to Liverpool in 2014.

The versatile player soon spent time out on loan with the likes of Cheltenham Town, Burton Albion and Swindon Town before finding his way into the Liverpool first-team picture under Jurgen Klopp.

He played 111 times for the club in the 2015-16 season, an impressive tally for the youngster who had established his best position as a holding midfielder.

(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

But after just nine appearances last term he made a permanent move from Liverpool in the summer. The Reds decided to let him go after recently relegated Hull City made a bid to bring him in, as a replacement for the Derby County-bound Tom Huddlestone.

It was reported by The Telegraph that the deal was worth around £8 million for the player to head to the KCOM Stadium. The Hull Daily Mail have since reported that the initial fee for the player is just £4 million, but it could rise to £8m with add-ons.

So far, Liverpool will not feel they made a mistake letting him go. Stewart has had a tough season with The Tigers.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

He suffered an injury during his Hull debut against QPR back in August and that essentially sums up his season. He has played just 16 times in the Championship this season whilst Hull have been fighting a relegation battle. In fact, there improved form came at a time when Stewart was out of action.

In February, Hull were on the end of a 4-0 thrashing in the FA Cup against Chelsea. The result reflected a poor performance from Hull but the local media pointed the finger at the former Liverpool man. The Hull Daily Mail, in fact, labelled him Hull’s ‘weak link’ in their match report.

At times during his stay at Liverpool, it looked as though Stewart might have a future at the club. But that has not proved to be the case after a series of disappointing displays and injury turmoil.

Hopefully, next season Stewart can have more of an impact at Hull. But, right now, it seems Liverpool will have no regrets about his sale.

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