Only time will tell if Liverpool made the correct decision in clinging on to Philippe Coutinho this summer.
The Reds chose to turn down several offers of around £100 million from Barcelona while knowing full well the Brazilian wanted to join them.
Despite his clear interest in pursuing a new challenge, Coutinho’s importance to Jurgen Klopp’s side was unquestionably the primary motive behind the club standing in his way.
Even an official transfer request submitted in mid-August did little to break Liverpool’s resolve given the difficulty they would've had in finding a suitable replacement at such short notice.
But that’s not to say the Reds weren't preparing a contingency plan as Barcelona became increasingly determined to fill the giant void left by Neymar.
Only a select few players in the world would qualify as adequate successors to Coutinho – and none would come cheap.
The attacking midfielder has been one of the most influential Liverpool players in recent history, contributing 36 goals and 31 assists since arriving five seasons ago.
As if it needs to be said, losing someone of his calibre would've been a disastrous blow for a club looking to contest both the Premier League and Champions League for the first time since 2014-15.
LIVERPOOL HAD A REPLACEMENT LINED UP
With that in mind, Klopp was sure of who he wanted to take over from Coutinho if his Barcelona switch came to pass.
German outlet Bild claims the Liverpool boss had identified Thomas Muller as his first-choice replacement for the Barcelona target.
While it’s now common knowledge the Reds opted to wave away a £100 million bid from the Catalan giants, the same report says they only took that stance after Bayern Munich refused to enter talks regarding the German international.
The Bundesliga champions ultimately stopped what could have sparked a huge domino effect in the transfer market, and instead forced Barcelona to call off their chase for Coutinho.
Barcelona went on to land Ousmane Dembele from Borussia Dortmund in a £97 million deal, while Liverpool and Bayern kept hold of Coutinho and Muller respectively.
This new information raises an interesting question for the Anfield faithful: would they rather have their star man for potentially only one more season or a world-class international for another three or four?
Coutinho and Muller are quite different players in terms of playing style, but they're both more than capable of providing an abundance of goals and assists.
As is often the case with these things, the answer will gradually unfold over the course of the campaign.
Should Liverpool have sold Coutinho if Muller was available? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.
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