MANUEL LANZINI is Liverpool’s No1 choice to replace Philippe Coutinho.
Kop boss Jurgen Klopp is refusing to rule out Coutinho’s departure to Barcelona – and is making plans should he leave.
He will get £115million for Coutinho and West Ham playmaker Lanzini is on his hitlist to fill the gap after his impressive form at West Ham.
Lanzini, 24, has been a key player in two full seasons with the Hammers and his loan from Al Jazira in UAE has been made a £9.4million permanent deal.
The Argentina international will make his club a massive profit should he leave, with his market value smashing past the £40million barrier on current prices.
But he is seen at Anfield as a player with huge potential at an age where he can progress to become a Champions League performer.
Coutinho looks likely to stay until the end of the season, when Klopp will then look at making sure his lethal attack does lose its edge without his Brazil star.
The ex-Inter Milan midfielder will get a £20million-a-year deal with Barca, which they agreed in the summer before being told to stop tapping up.
Liverpool’s email exchanges with the Spanish giants were released by Football Leaks and show three failed bids.
Kop bosses stuck by their stance of refusing to sell the 25-year-old despite him slapping in a transfer request himself.
But last week Klopp was offering no such assurances over Coutinho staying at the club, even if the club have no need to sell to balance the books following the arrival of Virgil van Dijk for £75million.
Along with the £385,000-a-week wages, Coutinho’s agent was due to receive £9million if a transfer fee of £88.5million was not exceeded for the transfer.