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Liverpool will turn to Real Madrid’s Mateo Kovacic if Philippe Coutinho leaves this summer – report

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Mateo Kovacic

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.

Mateo Kovacic to Liverpool
1.5
Transfer Likelihood
The Boot Room's Verdict
Although the report claims that Klopp has been making groundwork with Kovacic, he did still manage to feature 27 times in La Liga during the last campaign so there’s hope for him in Madrid. However, with the likes of Luka Modric, Casemiro, Isco, Toni Kroos and new boy Dani Ceballos all competing for midfield spots, he could do a lot worse than make the move if - and that is a big 'if' - Klopp comes calling.

Will is a Multimedia Journalism graduate from the University of Salford, specialising in the art of sports. Long-time suffering Northampton Town fan who once saw us win a league title. Find him on Twitter - @96PearsonW.

Arsenal

Fans criticise Jack Wilshere omission after Jordan Henderson’s ‘toothless’ England performance

Gareth Southgate’s bold decision is already being questioned.

Jamie Watts

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England put an end to the World Cup opener curse after Harry Kane’s stoppage time winner ensured England started the tournament with a victory, with Tunisia looking more than likely to take their share of the points in Volgograd.

After a promising opening 20 minutes, England’s shortcomings in front of goal were punished as Tunisia were awarded a penalty – using VAR – and Ferjani Sassi equalised from the spot, heaping pressure on Gareth Southgate’s outfit to score a second.

But creativity was scarce from the Three Lions, in what was a stressful and frustrating half to watch for the nation.

Photo: Getty Images

And Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson has come under fire for his performance in the heart of the midfield, with many believing that Arsenal‘s Jack Wilshere would have been more creative and imaginative in central midfield, if he wasn’t omitted from international duties this earlier this summer.

Henderson frequently opted for possession over creativity and was guilty of taking too many touches in the midfield yesterday, particularly in the second half and the speed of play was directly affected as a result.

Here’s the Twitter reaction:

By no means did the 28-year-old have an awful game, but his choice of pass was often safe and as a result England lacked impetus and drive in the second-half, until the additions of Marcus Rashford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek added a spark in the final third.

Gareth Southgate will often opt for control in central midfield against tougher opposition – with Belgium on the horizon – but against the likes of Tunisia and Panama, the side can afford to take more risks and be more inventive, and the decision to leave Wilshere at home is already being questioned after just one game.

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Liverpool

Gary Neville warns against Liverpool landing Xherdan Shaqiri this summer

The ex-Manchester United man wasn’t impressed with the Swiss international.

Jamie Watts

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Premier League pundit and Manchester United legend Gary Neville appears to have warned Liverpool – and other potential suitors – off signing Stoke City maestro Xherdan Shaqiri this summer, after his “lazy” performance against Brazil last night.

Jurgen Klopp is reportedly keen on the £12 million man, after seeing a move for Lyon star Nabil Fekir fall through in advanced stages, and is likely to step up his interest once the World Cup concludes, according to reports from the Mirror.

The Reds have been courting the Swiss international since 2014, before Jurgen Klopp was manager, back when former club Bayern Munich were said to have blocked a move, and he later joined Inter Milan.

Photo: Getty Images

Now, having been relegated with Stoke City, it looks increasingly likely that the 26-year-old will leave the bet365 Stadium. But, Neville – who joined the ITV panel as a pundit yersterday – has suggested that the Champions League runners-up would be best advised to look elsewhere (the Express).

Speaking before the game, Neville revealed: “I’m not a fan of Shaqiri to be honest with you. I think that was made worse by the fact that he distanced himself from his teammates as Stoke. [Stoke] were unprofessional last season, there’s no doubt, and he epitomises it.

“He could score the goal of the tournament and could have the most amazing game. But he could also be there for three matches, do nothing and just amble and waddle around.”

Shaqiri, despite his limited work-rate, did provide a pivotal moment in the game, as his perfectly floated corner landed on the head of Steven Zuber in the second-half, with the defender equalling the score, and the Swiss taking their equal share of points on the night.

Photo: Getty Images

Prior to this, Neville slammed his work-rate during the half-time interval claiming: “Shaqiri is just lazy. There’s no other word for him. He will not run back.” And this was evident as captain Steven Lichtsteiner was forced to shackle Neymar, Marcelo and Philippe Coutinho on his own for large periods.

Given the high-pressing, high-energy philosophy that Klopp’s outfit employs, Neville could be making a crucial point. But time will tell to see if the Potter’s performance has influenced Liverpool’s decision in the near future.

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Liverpool

Liverpool fans won’t be disheartened by lack of Timo Werner talks after World Cup display

The German has been heavily linked with Liverpool but is still not the finished article.

Mathew Nash

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One man who has been consistently linked with a move to Liverpool in recent seasons is German striker Timo Werner. The Leipzig star was, therefore, being watched closely by Reds fans when Germany took on Mexico in the first game of Germany’s World Cup defence.

Werner, who has also been tipped as one of 10 players to watch at the World Cup by The Boot Room, did not have his best game.

The Leipzig striker struggled throughout the game to make any sort of impact against Mexico’s excellent defenders. In the end, he was hauled off, limping, after a poor display in Moscow, with El Tri winning the game 1-0.

Whilst Liverpool continues to be a rumoured destination for Werner, it is clear that the Reds are not apparently interested. It was reported by the Liverpool Echo that the club made it clear he was not a target as far back as March. Which was a surprise, considering he has scored 21 goals this season.

(Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

But based on this performance, Liverpool fans will not be too disappointed in the decision.

With Nabil Fekir no longer arriving, the Werner rumours had recently come back to the surface. But it would appear Rhian Brewster, handed a new deal by Liverpool this weekend, may now get a pathway to the first-team.

As for Werner, his ability is not in doubt. This summer he may make a move and wherever he goes he will surely be a success.

But Liverpool will not be overly concerned about their decision to let a transfer move slide.   

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