Liverpool Could Turn to Manuel Lanzini If They Lose Philippe Coutinho

Dean Jones@DeanJonesBRFootball Insider at Bleacher ReportJuly 27, 2017

Liverpool Could Turn to Manuel Lanzini If They Lose Philippe Coutinho

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    It is the transfer story of the summer that no Liverpool fan wants to hear about: Barcelona are in hot pursuit of Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho.

    Since the Catalans touched base over a £72 million offer, the Reds have been firm with their stance that he is not for sale at any price.

    We have all seen this situation before, though, and no matter how adamant a club is about resisting offers, a deal could still go ahead.

    With that in mind, Liverpool could be in a situation soon whereby they need to replace Coutinho.

    Sources have indicated that, in such a scenario, West Ham United's Manuel Lanzini will emerge as a key target.

    Here is a look at how the situation could unravel.

Assessing the Situation

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    Neymar's move to Paris Saint-Germain would spark a domino effect, and in the case of Coutinho, it is not as simple as staying at Liverpool just because manager Jurgen Klopp says he will be, per Chris Bascombe of the Daily Telegraph.

    Speaking to contacts close to Coutinho, it is clear the player is interested in the prospect of making the switch to Barcelona, and who can blame him?

    But with Liverpool's stance, the midfielder is going to have to push for the move if he wants a transfer to happen.

    There is a belief among people around him that the Brazil international would be willing to do that if it becomes clear that Barcelona's interest in him is genuine.

    Liverpool would quickly need a new man in place to fill his role, and that's why signing Lanzini would make sense. They already have a dossier on him and have had him in mind as a long-term target.

    They just did not expect to be considering a move for him so soon.

How to Cope Without Coutinho

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    He is Liverpool's magician. A man who can create danger from almost any situation. A player who can score goals effectively, as well as set others up.

    From 31 appearances in the Premier League last season, Coutinho produced 13 goals and seven assists.

    An ankle problem in December left him on the sidelines for a spell, and though he took a little while to find his best form again, he ended the campaign with a run of seven goals from nine outings.

    What Klopp loves so much about Coutinho, though, is that he works just as hard on his defensive duties. He is a team player who represents what the German stands for.

    He is still improving too. We have probably not even seen the best of him.

    If Coutinho leaves, then Liverpool need to find a replacement who has the same potential, creativity and work ethic.

Looking at Lanzini

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    Lanzini has been on Liverpool's radar for some time, as he is one of the few creative players his age who can play with such maturity.

    At 24, he has game-changing ability but also understands when he is expected to pitch in defensively for the team.

    He weighed in with eight goals and two assists last term, but it is difficult to compare his output to Coutinho's because of the fact he was playing in a team that struggled for much of the season.

    Despite the difficulties at London Stadium, he was impressive. That is why so many Premier League clubs have been deploying scouts to watch him on a regular basis.

    Liverpool were always keeping tabs on his situation, and it is understood both Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal have sounded out representatives to discover how Lanzini's situation may open up.

    The player is happy to stay at West Ham but is aware other clubs have been watching him.

Is the West Ham Man Up to the Task?

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    Lanzini is a full Argentina international so knows how it feels to break through among the world's biggest names.

    He is a creator and a set-piece specialist and is still heading toward his peak. He also seems to have the traits to suggest he would fit into a Klopp lineup.

    His importance to West Ham should not be underestimated, and they would not be willing to let him leave without a fight. It is more than likely they would offer him a new contract.

    But you would expect him to be interested in this move if an offer does arrive.

    Bleacher Report's Sam Tighe has doubts about whether Lanzini could replace Coutinho adequately though because it is impossible to find a player of the same quality.

    Tighe said: "The problem Liverpool face is that Coutinho is essentially irreplaceable. They can't attract a like-for-like player in terms of quality to replace him, and while Lanzini had one hell of a 2016-17 season in spite of West Ham's travails, he's not at Coutinho's level."

    We wait to see how the Neymar move opens up and whether Coutinho will turn to his manager and explain a desire to move to Barcelona.

    If that happens, expect Liverpool to move for Lanzini.