Since Neymar’s departure to Paris Saint-Germain, Phillipe Coutinho’s move to Barcelona has become the talk of the market as they are desperate to sign the Brazilian playmaker. They admire his style of play and believe that he can perfectly fit into their kind of football.
However, Liverpool have so far played hardball. Jürgen Klopp has said it repeatedly that he doesn’t want Coutinho to leave as he considers him a major part of his plans. A reported transfer request submitted by Coutinho has added fuel to the fire.
Liverpool have rejected three previous bids by Barcelona and already issued a statement saying that no bids for Phillipe Coutinho would be entertained. But if in the future, Barcelona’s mega-bid was accepted, then the player would have to leave Anfield. Preparing for such a scenario, Liverpool and Jürgen Klopp have set their sights on West Ham’s winger Manuel Lanzini as a possible replacement.
West Ham United finished in the bottom half of the table last year and failed to challenge for a European place. However, Manuel Lanzini was a bright shining light in an average season for the Hammers. Steven Bilic unleashed the spark in the 24-year old as the Argentine finished the season with eight goals. Playing only his second season in English top-tier football, Lanzini did his job well. He made 35 appearances in the English Premier League.
He helped his team out in most of the difficult situations. He ran tirelessly through the ground, covering almost every blade of grass. He had 21 shots on target and converted eight of them into goals.
His defensive contribution was tremendous as well. Lanzini made 44 tackles and had a tackle success rate of 68%. The Argentine also made 45 interceptions which equal to 1.28 interceptions in every match. He won 172 duels during the whole season. These numbers can put any defender’s statistics to shame! (Stats via Squawka.com)
What’ll Lanzini offer Liverpool?
Lanzini can play in any attacking position. His elusive in the final third might not be at par with Coutinho, but he is still hard to dispossess owing to his skills. His pinpoint passing is excellent and his finishing isn’t bad either. He covers a lot of ground and can be slotted alongside Henderson and Can in a midfield three.
The likes of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino have formed a great partnership. Lanzini can learn a lot from these influential players. This can help him improve his game and develop into an excellent attacking midfielder.
Is he worth the fuss?
Lanzini is only 24 years of age. He has many years of top-flight football left in him. After a couple of solid seasons at East London, Lanzini is perhaps ready for a step up and in case Coutinho does leave, he’ll be a safe bet as he has shown that he is a really good creative player.