The mood at Anfield is sort of sombre despite the arrival of Virgil van Dijk in early January. The sale of Philippe Coutinho was inevitable, but quite a few fans presumed he’d move in the summer. With Liverpool challenging for the top 4 in the league, FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League, they need their best players to remain, so it’s natural for the fans to expect more.
Liverpool still have a pretty good squad to finish in the top four, but like they did in the summer, it’d be foolish not to replace the best player in his position.
Quite a few have been touted to replace Philippe Coutinho; Thomas Lemar, Christian Pulisic, Riyad Mahrez…but recent reports reveal the Reds might go back to Barcelona for an alternative.
After the arrival of Coutinho, Ivan Rakitic’s future looks somewhat bleak. Though the Croatian has put in stellar performances under Ernesto Valverde, the battle for a starting spot is much tougher at Camp Nou. Reportedly, Liverpool will have to tussle it out with Arsenal for the former Sevilla man’s signature.
Rakitic will offer more balance
Ivan Rakitic is not the same type of player Coutinho is, not entirely. While both of them are midfielders, the Croatian is more of a central midfielder who can play an attacking role. It’s the other way round with Coutinho. In terms of creativity, though, Rakitic is still a pretty good player.
If Liverpool need someone who can control the tempo of the game, then Rakitic is a good choice. Jürgen Klopp has preferred the 4-3-3 on most occasions, though he has changed it to 4-4-2 at times in between games. Rakitic is a good option to play alongside Jordan Henderson or Emre Can, whoever plays the deeper role.
Still in the prime of his career, a combo of Rakitic and Keita would be something if Klopp and Liverpool can manage to make it happen. The two have the DNA of playing under managers like Valverde and Hasenhüttl, who want their players to press and win the ball back; something Liverpool are known to do under Klopp.
Rakitic’s output this season hasn’t been the best; just 3 assists in the La Liga. Well, that’s mainly down to the fact that Messi, Suarez and Paulinho have done the bulk of the scoring and assisting. Rakitic is the one who runs the show in the midfield alongside the ever-present Sergio Busquets.
Rakitic is contracted with the club until 2021, so he won’t come cheap. Liverpool played hardball while selling Coutinho to Barcelona, so the Blaugrana certainly won’t make it easy while selling one of their own to the same club. Nevertheless, considering the inflated market, he could cost somewhere around €45m.