In Focus: Liverpool may want target Riyad Mahrez to play in a more central role

According to reports in French publication L’Equipe, Liverpool are ready to make a January move for Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez, who is rated at £27m according to Transfermarkt, if Philippe Coutinho completes his transfer to Barcelona this month.

What’s the word, then?

Well, the Brazil international was heavily linked with a move to the La Liga side during the summer having been the subject of a number of bids, and that speculation has continued through into the New Year.

The Independent suggests that a deal for the 25-year-old attacking midfielder could be sealed as soon as Monday, with L’Equipe saying the Reds are targeting Monaco’s Thomas Lemar and Mahrez as possible replacements.

The report adds that while Foxes mananger Claude Puel wants to keep the Algeria international, the owners are ready to sell if they receive an offer that suits all parties.

How has Mahrez done this season?

Following a slow start to the campaign when the team was struggling under former boss Craig Shakespeare, the 2016 PFA Player of the Year has been back to his best since Puel took the helm in October.

The 26-year-old has scored seven goals and provided a further eight assists in 22 Premier League appearances this term, taking his total to 34 goals and 25 assists for the club in the top flight since they were promoted in 2014.

Would he be a good replacement for Coutinho?

It’s difficult to say.

In terms of statistics and how influential he is for his team there is no doubt that he would be a more than able successor, however the fact that he usually plays on the right wing and Coutinho either plays on the left or even in a deeper midfield role suggests that Mahrez may have to adapt if he does move to Anfield.

He will certainly find it difficult to displace Sadio Mane and Mo Salah on the flanks right now, and Jurgen Klopp may feel that he could make a big difference through the middle in something that is more like a No 10 role.

Will they get him?

Liverpool have shown with the purchases of Virgil van Dijk and Naby Keita that they aren’t afraid to spend big for the right players so whatever Mahrez’s price tag is won’t be a problem, but they could face competition from the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal for his signature.