Monday 10 December 2018

Liverpool make transfer plans for Philippe Coutinho's departure with Thomas Lemar and Riyad Mahrez targets

Miguel Delaney

Liverpool have prepared a contingency plan if they do sell Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona this window, and the Anfield club will first look to Monaco’s Thomas Lemar with Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez as a back-up, and also try to sign a new goalkeeper.

While the hierarchy’s stance is that they are still trying to persuade the Brazilian to stay, there is a growing feeling - especially at Camp Nou - that he could leave by next week, so Liverpool have naturally prepared for that possibility.

They had been considering a move for Lemar in this window with the view to bedding him in before Coutinho leaves in the summer - as reported by The Independent in December - but that will definitely happen if a transfer with Barcelona is agreed.

Monaco have however proven tough negotiators and already rejected a late bid from Anfield in the summer believed to come to around £75m, so it could well take around £100m of Coutinho’s expected £133m fee to sign Lemar. If they cannot push that through, they will move for Mahrez.

Liverpool are meanwhile looking at goalkeepers, amid ongoing debate about the contributions of Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius. Jan Oblak would be an ideal but his release clause at Atletico Madrid is £100m and there is other interest, but they have also monitored Allison at Roma, as well as Stoke City’s Jack Butland.

Jurgen Klopp is determined to keep the momentum of this season going, even if they do sell Coutinho.

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