So the Philippe Coutinho saga is finally over, with the mercurial Brazilian leaving Liverpool and signing for Barcelona in a £145million deal, making him the second most expensive player in the history of the game – but what now for his old club?
On the face of things it is a strange move to let arguably your biggest talent leave in the middle of a season where the team are unbeaten in 17 games and playing well, but it appears the will of the player won the day and now the question is just who will replace him and when?
It’s an interesting conundrum for Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp as he knows the Reds fans want a quality replacement in now, but he has already shown that he is very single-minded in his approach and does not have a problem playing the waiting game if it means getting his desired target.
You only have to look at the capture of Virgil van Dijk as the most recent evidence of that policy, as well as Naby Keita, who will join the club in the summer after signing in the previous transfer window for £48 million from RB Leipzig.
It is believed that the number one target for Klopp to take over the playmaker mantle is Thomas Lemar of AS Monaco, who was repeatedly linked with Liverpool in the summer and is understood to be open to a move to Anfield to work with the German.
The 21-year-old French international is a wonderful talent with a sublime left foot who came to prominence alongside the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Bernardo Silva as the Ligue 1 side lit up the Champions League last season and is reportedly available for around £90 million.
Another mooted target for the Reds is Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez, who is familiar to all those who watch the Premier League as being one of the key men in the Foxes title-winning season in 2016 and the bidding for the gifted Algerian is touted as starting from around £50 million.
One other possibility is that Klopp will use this window to try to convince Leipzig to bring forward the transfer of Keita, but that is a long shot as the Bundesliga side are adamant that he will stay until the end of the season, so it will be interesting to see just how the fallout from Coutinho’s departure pans out.
Regardless of who will fill Coutinho’s boots at Anfield, Liverpool will need to ensure that the recent run of good form continues without the mercurial Brazilian for the next few months.