Liverpool transfer news: Philippe Coutinho seals £142m move to Barcelona
Could Alexis Sanchez, Riyad Mahrez or Thomas Lemar replace the Brazilian playmaker at Anfield?
The deal that has dragged on for month was finally settled over the weekend with Philippe Coutinho leaving Liverpool for Barcelona in a £142million move.
There were rumours on Saturday that the Spanish club were going to parade the South American playmaker before yesterday’s clash with Levante but that never happened with the club releasing a message hours before the match saying: “The player will not be in the stadium. Out of respect for the competition, his day will be on Monday.”
In fact Coutinho was in Barcelona on Sunday, posing for a few photographs after the match, but BBC Sport says he will be officially unveiled as a Nou Camp player at 11.30am this morning.
In a video message posted on Twitter, the Brazilian addressed Barca’s fans, telling them: “It is a dream come true and I hope to see you tomorrow.”
In a subsequent interview with the club’s TV channel, Coutinho said: “It is incredible to know that I am going to live with idols, players with a lot of history… Leo Messi, Luis Suarez, [Andres] Iniesta, [Gerard] Pique, [Sergio] Busquets. I am very happy to be able to live together, to be able to learn from them and be able to win together.”
The final transfer fee is considerably more than the £118m tabled by Barcelona last summer, and such a sum has led former Liverpool striker John Aldridge to declare that the Reds “have to spend it wisely”.
In fact, £75m has already been spent with Liverpool snapping up Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk last week, a move that reaped an immediate reward with the Dutchman scoring in Friday’s 2-1 FA Cup defeat of Everton.
But with Coutinho gone, Liverpool have lost one of their most influential creators, and a man who scored 54 goals in 200 appearances, a strike rate that will take some beating for a player of his position.
BBC Sport speculates which players might be on Jurgen Klopp’s January shopping list, namechecking Monaco’s Thomas Lemar, while the Daily Star claims Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez is on the brink of moving to Anfield.
But former Liverpool defender turned BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson, says the Reds may now look to challenge Manchester City for the hand of Alexis Sanchez.
It’s reported that Arsenal are willing to sell their Chilean striker for as little as £25m, rather than let him leave on a free transfer in June, and Lawrenson says that makes Sanchez an attractive proposition.
“There is a fella at Arsenal who wants out called Alexis Sanchez, that would be very interesting if Liverpool decide to go for someone like that,” said Lawrenson.
“If you can get Sanchez, and you have already got Virgil van Dijk, then that is good business, probably good business for everyone.”