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Coral Predicts: Life after Coutinho for Liverpool

How would the Reds cope without the Brazil star?

Liverpool managed to fend off Barcelona’s interest in Philippe Coutinho in the summer but reports suggest Paris Saint-Germain have now entered the race for his signature.

PSG believe the chance to link up with Brazil teammate Neymar could convince Coutinho to move to the Parc des Princes.

Coutinho handed in a transfer request to try to force a move to Barcelona in the summer but it didn’t change Liverpool’s stance. The club made it clear they had no intention of selling such an important player.

The 25-year-old is now back in Jurgen Klopp’s team. But it remains to be seen if he’ll push for a move again.

If he were to leave Anfield, how would the Reds cope? The Coral News Team have gazed into their crystal ball to predict what would happen.

On-the-Pitch

Coutinho is Liverpool’s most creative attacking player. Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah can be devastating in wide areas, but Coutinho has the quality and vision to unlock defences.

He’s only made three league appearances so far this season, yet he’s created the most chances of any Liverpool player (13).

Coutinho is also a real threat from distance. His long-range strike against Newcastle United was his 17th Premier League goal from outside the box since his arrival in January 2013. No other player in the division has more.

Losing Coutinho would be a blow but the huge fee his sale would generate would allow the club to strengthen the whole team. They could do with upgrades in goal and central defence.

It would also allow Jurgen Klopp to fully mould the team in his image. He isn’t wedded to the idea of having a central playmaker. Speaking in December 2016, he said: “No playmaker in the world can be as good as a good counter-pressing situation.”

Liverpool’s play will have less imagination without Coutinho but they might be a more effective counter-attacking side.

Potential Replacements

Naby Keita – Coutinho’s replacement could be Liverpool-bound Naby Keita. The Reds have already tied up a deal to bring in the Red Bull Leipzig midfielder next summer.

Keita has a brilliant all-around game. He’s as comfortable charging forward as he is making a crucial tackle.

Coutinho has played in a deeper role this season to accommodate Salah and Mane on the flanks. Keita is a very different player but he could make that midfield spot his own when he arrives.

Riyad Mahrez – If Riyad Mahrez can reproduce the form of 2015-16, he’d be a great signing for almost any side.

The Leicester City ace can play out wide or as a number 10. He also demonstrated the work-rate that would be necessary for Klopp’s system during the Foxes’ title-winning campaign.

He’s not been as effective since then, although he did want to leave for a new challenge during the summer. Mahrez wouldn’t come cheap but he has similar qualities to Coutinho.

Thomas Lemar – Thomas Lemar was one of the standout performers during Monaco’s Ligue 1 triumph and run to the Champions League semi-finals last season.

He played wide on the left of a four-man midfield, with a licence to drift infield. It wasn’t dissimilar to Coutinho’s old position on the left for the Reds. Like Coutinho, Lemar is a slick passer with the ability to beat a man and fire in from distance.

Liverpool reportedly had a bid of over £64m for the 21-year-old rejected last summer. If they’re armed with funds from a Coutinho sale, they could tempt Monaco to sell.

Off-the-Pitch

Coutinho is an increasingly important member of the Brazil squad and his standing in the global game was highlighted with his Ballon d’Or nomination this week. He won’t win the award this year but he is in very impressive company.

The Rio de Janeiro-born midfielder is arguably Liverpool’s biggest star. He’s the sort of player Liverpool would want to build around for years to come.

It could send a damaging signal about the club’s ambition if he were to leave. But with the sums that were on offer during the summer, using the money from any sale to fund some smart purchases would be a good response.

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