Liverpool will turn to Real Madrid's Mateo Kovacic if Philippe Coutinho leaves this summer - report
Reports surfacing from Spain over the past day believe that, should Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho leave the club this summer, then Jurgen Klopp will turn his attentions to Mateo Kovacic.
Diario Gol claim that the Liverpool boss has firmly set his sights on the 23-year-old Real Madrid should Coutinho make the switch to Barcelona, with Kovacic far down the pecking order in Spain.
Yet, with reports in the Mirror on Tuesday morning suggesting that Barcelona have admitted defeat in their £100 million pursuit of Coutinho, a move for the Croatian midfielder is seemingly in the balance.
Would Kovacic be a suitable replacement at Anfield?
Attempting to find a replacement for arguably Liverpool’s stand-out player – should he go to Barcelona – with only days left of the summer transfer window would certainly be no mean feat.
But in Mateo Kovacic Liverpool may have found a player that can thrive in the Premier League, with the Croat going about his development in the Spanish capital – since moving to Madrid in 2015 – and always seemingly being on the brink of something special, but he just hasn’t quite managed it yet.
In Jurgen Klopp there is a manager that is ready made to help him achieve this potential and transform him into the perfect all-round midfielder, it’s just whether the German will go for him.
The young Croatian has already earnt himself a reputation as an impressive distributor of possession, having a calm nature on the ball and quick enough feet to earn him space on the pitch.
Playing for Real Madrid has also improved his passing in tight spaces, meaning he could bring a higher tempo to Liverpool’s play and start – and finish – nice and tight, intricate passing moves.
This would enable him to link up expertly with the likes of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and further up the pitch Sadio Mane, with Kovacic providing the driving force from the heart of the side.
There’s work that still needs to be done on his defensive play but he’s shown enough glimpses that he’s willing to work hard deep in midfield to breakdown opposition play and turn defence to attack.
Despite being transformed into a central midfielder at the Bernabeu since his move from Italian outfit Inter Milan in 2015, Kovacic has an upbringing as more of a winger that could be very handy.
In a sense he could do a job – and do it extremely well – anywhere in the Liverpool midfield when required, and with the Reds looking to challenge in Europe this year this could be a massive blessing.
There are always going to be question marks over any potential new additions to Liverpool’s midfield this summer due to the inevitable comparison with Coutinho but if the worst does in fact happen then they will need a player of Kovacic’s raw quality to come in and fill the sizeable hole.
If Real Madrid do not see him as part of their future plans, and are content on letting him leave this summer, then it is certainly a case that Liverpool should swoop in while they can and get him cheap.