Liverpool are now facing the responsibility of replacing Philippe Coutinho after his £142m move to Barcelona. Liverpool have already invested some of that money in the central defense as they signed former Saints defender Virgil van Dijk.
Players like Thomas Lemar, Riyad Mahrez, Dani Ceballos, and others have been linked with the Reds after their record-breaking sale.
The first thing to clarify is it is impossible for Liverpool to replace Coutinho, especially in January. Liverpool shouldn’t even look for someone to directly replace Coutinho this winter either, as they have Leipzig midfielder Naby Keïta joining the club in the summer.
Keïta is a box to box midfielder who produces great stats in creating chances and his defensive output is exceptional. Although Keïta and Coutinho are different, Keïta will bring more defensive prowess than Coutinho as the Guinean midfielder averages a staggering 5.4 interceptions and tackles per game.
The only noticeable area that Keïta is behind Coutinho in is chances created and goalscoring. However, with Liverpool’s current front three running rampant in the League, the Merseyside club shouldn’t be worried about adding more goal scorers to the squad.
What positions should they target?
Instead, Liverpool should look for a holding midfielder and a goalkeeper primarily this January. They could also look for more depth for the front three. The only quality holding midfielder available this winter seems to be Steven N’Zonzi.
N’Zonzi’s current team, Sevilla, play in a high pressing system similar to Liverpool. The Frenchman also has Premier League experience and he is reportedly available for £35m.
With N’Zonzi shielding the back four, then two energetic midfielders sitting next to him like Can, Henderson, Lallana, or Wijnaldum, Liverpool would have more defensive security.
Liverpool are not going to be able to sign any high-quality goalies this winter that are exceptionally better than Mignolet or Karius. Instead, they should look to target one in the summer.
Due to Keïta not joining the club until the summer, Klopp should look to make a loan signing from one of the Spanish big boys.
The likes of André Gomes, Mateo Kovačić, and Dani Ceballos are all young midfielders who aren’t getting any League minutes for their respected clubs.
Andre Gomes at Barcelona has failed to impress after his move from Valencia in 2016. The Portuguese midfielder has only played 259 minutes in La Liga this season. With the addition of Coutinho and Rafinha coming back from injury, his play time will reduce even more.
Gomes was once a talented prospect, but never shined at Barcelona. Moving to Liverpool in an energetic system and more game time may be the keys to finding his once shown ability.
Mateo Kovačić & Dani Ceballos
Moving to Madrid now, where a duo of young skilled midfielders have been limited in the amount of League minutes they have received. Kovačić and Ceballos have accumulated only 342 minutes between the two. It’s hard to argue about playtime though when Luka Modrić and Toni Kroos are keeping you out of the team.
Kovačić has the potential to be a world-class midfielder and his development may have been hindered by joining the Galacticos. At Inter in the 14/15 season, Kovačić averaged 1.8 key passes a game and 2.6 dribbles a game, at the young age of 20. Now at 23 years old, Kovačić still has time to grow into a world-class deep lining playmaker that he showed flashes of at Inter.
Dani Ceballos is only 21 years of age and just joined Los Blancos this summer, following exceptional performances in the U21 Euros with the Spanish U21 side.
A loan move to Liverpool is more realistic than a permeant move and that is just what Liverpool need. When they receive Keïta in the summer, there will be little room for Ceballos to start consistently.
Buying from Real Madrid may be difficult as Zidane has indicated that he does need to bolster his squad, which may mean he does not want any outgoing transfers.
Liverpool do not need to go out and splash the cash this January. They have already made a great signing in van Dijk, and if they can purchase the transfer listed N’Zonzi this winter then they will be set to make the top four this season.
Liverpool need to save the profits they made from the Coutinho sale for the summer where they can go after a goalie, more depth in the attack, and possibly an Emre Can replacement.