Who Could Liverpool Sign to Replace Philippe Coutinho?

Whether it happens over the next month or Liverpool wait until the summer, the transfer of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona is growing increasingly inevitable. And with it a huge fee.

Liverpool resisted the lucrative offers from Barcelona in the summer, with their final bid reaching £118 million, as Coutinho handed in a transfer request. The Brazilian stayed at Anfield and has played a crucial role in Jurgen Klopp's team in the first half of this season.

But with the start of the new year comes the month-long opportunity for clubs to do business—and Barcelona are expected to return once again for Coutinho. According to The Times, the 25-year-old playmaker thinks the deal will happen this month, believing he has played his final game for Liverpool.

The Merseyside club is holding out for an offer of £133 million plus add-ons should Coutinho achieve personal goals, such as winning the Ballon d'Or. So, with a huge windfall likely to be dropping into the bank account at Anfield, how could Liverpool replace Coutinho?

Alexis Sanchez

Until now, Sanchez has looked destined for the Premier League leaders Manchester City, but why not take a shot at getting a goalscoring bargain. That's the view of former Liverpool striker John Aldridge, who says they should make a "sneaky" £40 million offer for Sanchez. Writing in the Irish Independent, Aldridge suggested Sanchez could be "tempted by a move to a Liverpool side that he would fit into so easily."

Thomas Lemar

Liverpool have been one of the leading contenders to sign one of Monaco's remaining sensations of last season, joined by Arsenal and Chelsea. The Gunners made a deadline-day £90 million bid for the French midfielder in the summer that was rejected by Monaco, so the purchase of Lemar is going to be expensive for Liverpool. But with Arsenal trailing Liverpool by six points, and potentially missing out on the Champions League again, Anfield would be the more attractive option.

Jurgen Klopp and Philippe Coutinho
Jurgen Klopp, left, and Philippe Coutinho at Anfield, Liverpool, England, December 26. Coutinho believes he has played his final game for Liverpool. PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

The Gabon international is another player on both Liverpool and Chelsea's radar. Antonio Conte is in the market for a striker, keen to bring in some support for summer-signing Alvaro Morata, but Liverpool has an advantage in luring Aubameyang. The 28-year-old forward has played for Borussia Dortmund for five years, signed by Klopp and coached for two years until the German left for Anfield. A reunion could be on the cards. Aubameyang's electric speed would fit in seamlessly at Liverpool, but he would struggle to displace Salah, Sadio Mane or Roberto Firmino.

Julian Draxler

Space for attacking players at the Parc des Princes is growing increasingly tight. Draxler has remained part of Unai Emery's plans but with Neymar's £199 million move from Barcelona in the summer, and Kylian Mbappe's loan from Monaco, the German's future at Paris Saint-Germain looks in doubt. At 24, Draxler is still yet to reach his peak and Klopp could coach his countryman into reaching the potential many expect from him.

Sergio Aguero

The Manchester City striker has suggested his future at the Etihad Stadium is out of his hands, with reports that he feels uncertain under Pep Guardiola. Gabriel Jesus appears to be the City coach's preferred choice out of his strikers, plus competition for position will increase should Sanchez head north. The addition of Aguero would be expensive for Liverpool but it would likely boost them into becoming title contenders.

... Or do a Spurs

Remember when Tottenham got their big-money deal in Spain, when Gareth Bale joined Real Madrid for a world-record £86 million? Instead of bringing in proven talent, Spurs spent the money on seven new players. In came Roberto Soldado, Etienne Capoue, Paulinho, Vlad Chiriches, Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen and Nacer Chadli; only Lamela and Eriksen remain four-and-a-half years later. With Liverpool's clear eye for talent, having signed Mohamed Salah for a modest £35 million in the summer, it could be a gamble worth taking.