Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez is reportedly in talks with Liverpool as the Reds search for a replacement for Philippe Coutinho.
Mahrez is discussing the terms of a January move to Anfield, although he would prefer to join Arsenal, according to Jack Wilson at the Daily Express.
It’s said Liverpool’s top priority this winter is to bring forward a deal for RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita, who has already agreed a move to Anfield in the summer.
However, if they are unable to secure Keita earlier, they could move for Mahrez, and they may not face competition from Arsenal as they have not been in contact with the 26-year-old.
This is not the first time Liverpool have been linked with Mahrez, as recent speculation suggested he was set to have a medical ahead of a big-money move, per football writer Dave O’Connell:
Leicester manager Claude Puel has been asked about the rumours surrounding Mahrez’s future and has said that he wants to keep the 26-year-old at the club, per Rob Tanner at the Leicester Mercury.
“I can only say the same thing—there is nothing new about him. He is a valuable player for us and I want to keep him.
“I have no problem with him. He works hard in training and is enjoying his football and he is playing very well. After that, it is just speculation.
“Last week, for example, he was said to be signing for another club—and all this speculation. I am happy he is staying here and he has a super attitude. If you saw the training session this morning he was smiling and enjoying it. It is amazing.”
Football journalist Dale O’Donnell showed how Leicester secured Mahrez for a bargain price:
Mahrez may not be Liverpool’s first choice, but he is a proven Premier League performer, and his seven goals and seven assists this season show he is getting back to his best form.
Liverpool may also find it easier to land Mahrez than bring forward a deal for Keita. Leipzig manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has said the club have no reason to let him go early, per Goal:
Mahrez would not be a direct replacement for Coutinho, as he tends to favour a wide-right position where he can drift inside. However, he does bring goals, assists and real quality from set pieces, but prising him away from Leicester may be difficult.
The Foxes will be well aware that Liverpool have money to spend after the departure of Coutinho and may well demand a huge price for a key player they do not want to sell.
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