Liverpool have reportedly identified Lille OSC's Sofiane Boufal as an alternative target to Mario Gotze and will go after the Moroccan forward if the Bayern Munich star decides against moving to Anfield.
Gotze has long been seen as a key summer target for Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, with the pair having formed a good relationship when they worked together at Borussia Dortmund and the German winger struggling for game time at Bayern, per Chris Beesley in the Liverpool Echo.
However, the 24-year-old is weighing up his options, and Liverpool could now offer Lille "more than €20 million (£15.7 million)" for Boufal, who they scouted "over a dozen times" in 2015-16, per Foot Mercato (h/t Dipesh Agarwal on Sport Witness).
Agarwal's report added that, with Gotze taking his time to decide his future, Liverpool's hand could be forced in moving for Boufal, with Inter Milan, Dortmund and Paris-Saint Germain all having been linked to the 22-year-old as well.
Boufal moved from Angers to Lille in January 2015 and starred in his first full season in 2015-16, netting 11 goals and providing four assists in 29 Ligue 1 appearances, per WhoScored.com.
Much like Gotze, he is most comfortable playing out wide on either flank but can also operate effectively through the middle.
Boufal's discipline is a concern—he received 10 yellow cards and was sent off twice in Ligue 1 last term—but he will likely become less hot-headed as he gains more experience and could be moulded by Klopp to put his temper to better use.
In attack, he can be devastating running at players, while his link-up play, set-piece delivery and finishing are all excellent—see below for a taste of his playing style:
Gotze would be a fantastic signing for Liverpool as he is proven at the highest level—he has won a World Cup with Germany and a combined five Bundesliga titles with Dortmund and Bayern—and already has a relationship with Klopp. He could fit straight into the manager's system at Anfield.
However, he may not be obtainable for the Reds—not least because they cannot offer him Champions League football—and Boufal would be a fine alternative.
The Morocco international may be more raw than Gotze, but he has immense potential and could thrive under Klopp, who has a good reputation for working effectively with youngsters.
Per Agarwal, Lille are likely to be happy to let him go for around €20 million (£15.7 million), having signed him for just €3 million (£2.4 million), thus all parties could be open to the move if Liverpool decide to go ahead with their pursuit of Boufal.