Liverpool identify Coutinho replacement and prepared to bid £88m

Liverpool are planning for life without Philippe Coutinho and are lining up his replacement, according to a report in France.

The Brazilian playmaker continues to be linked with a move to Barcelona with The Mirror yesterday claiming Coutinho will be allowed to leave Anfield for Barcelona in the summer.

The La Liga giants are expected to renew their interest in the 25-year-old next month, but yesterday’s report claimed Coutinho wants assurances he will be allowed to leave in the summer, and in turn he will then focus on his Anfield career until then.

Liverpool are though readying a January move for Monaco star Thomas Lemar, as they resign themselves to Coutinho leaving.

According to L’Equipe, Liverpool are ready to make an initial £79million offer for Lemar and they are prepared to go up to £88million.

Arsenal are also still in the hunt for the France winger, who pulled out of a move to The Emirates in the summer, causing Alexis Sanchez’s Man City move to collapse.

Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Barcelona are all tracking the 22-year-old, who has failed to hit the heights of last season.

Lemar helped Monaco win Ligue 1 and reach the semi-finals of the Champions League last season, scoring 14 goals and grabbing 17 assists, but this season he has scored only once with Monaco nine points behind the leaders PSG.

Still, Liverpool believe Lemar is the man to step into the boots of Coutinho, who put in an official transfer request in the summer.

Liverpool rejected three bids from Barca, with the third offer believed to have been around £114million and when he was asked about his future last week he refused to rule out a move to Barcelona.

“I do not know how the future is going to be,” said Coutinho last week.

“What will happen in January, we will know it in January. I do not know if there will be an offer. I am at Liverpool and I always do my best when I have the opportunity to play, respecting the jersey and the supporters.

“Last summer there was a job offer in the same way that happens with any employee and I was interested in it. Since I stayed, I have played with will and desire.”