Paris Saint-Germain are said to have earmarked Philippe Coutinho as their alternative if they fail to land AS Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe this summer.
The Brazilian signed a new five-year contract with Liverpool at the beginning of the year, ensuring his status as the club’s highest earner.
This has not quelled speculation over Coutinho’ future, however, with both PSG and Barcelona regularly touted with moves for the 25-year-old playmaker.
He has seemingly dropped down the pecking order both sides, though, with Barcelona targeting PSG’s Marco Verratti, and the Paris club making a bold approach for Mbappe.
According to French publication L’Equipe, Coutinho is PSG’s ‘plan B’ if a move for Monaco’s wonderkid falls through.
Liverpool were previously claimed to have quoted a €100 million (£86.7 million) valuation for their No. 10, but this is unlikely to deter PSG if their interest is genuine.
The French club are reported to have met with Mbappe and his representatives to discuss a move, but Real Madrid are also pursuing the young France international.
Whether Coutinho’s future hinges on Mbappe’s decision is questionable, but it does serve as a worrying subplot as Jurgen Klopp plans for the 2017/18 campaign.
L’Equipe suggest Liverpool would only sell if they had a replacement already lined up.
Hypothetically, this could be RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita, with the 22-year-old earmarked for the No. 8 role in Klopp’s midfield if the Reds are able to seal a deal this summer.
With Coutinho also expected to drop back into a deeper role in 2017/18, Klopp’s midfield ranks would be flooded with options.
Keita is not the same player as Coutinho, but his presence supporting the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino would be similarly valuable.
However, Leipzig have repeatedly stressed they won’t sell the Guinean this summer, with sporting director Ralf Rangnick saying earlier this week that “there’s nothing that will make us budge.”
Liverpool’s pursuit of Keita is likely to continue throughout the summer, but there are major doubts over whether he will end up making the move to Merseyside.
This would suggest that Coutinho is going nowhere regardless of PSG’s intentions, as he is arguably Klopp’s most important player.
He scored 14 goals and assisted a further nine in 36 appearances for the Reds last season, and was named Player of the Season for the third year running in May.