Liverpool want £70m creative midfielder to replace Philippe Coutinho if he leaves

LIVERPOOL boss Jurgen Klopp has reportedly set his sights on Real Madrid midfielder Mateo Kovacic to replace Philippe Coutinho if he joins Barcelona.

Coutinho, 25, has handed in a transfer request at Liverpool after being the subject of interest from Barcelona.

The La Liga giants have lodged three bids for the Brazil international already this summer with their latest £118million offer being rejected by the Reds yesterday.

Liverpool have issued a public statement insisting Philippe Coutinho is not for sale at any price.

Kop boss Klopp has even warned Ernesto Valverde’s side off his prized asset.

But the Catalan giants are not ready to give up the chase as they are determined to find a replacement for Neymar, who joined Paris Saint-Germain in a world-record £200m deal.

However, Spanish outlet Diario Madridista claim Klopp has already earmarked who he wants to replace Coutinho with should he swap Anfield for the Nou Camp.

It is said Real Madrid’s Kovacic is on the German’s radar after Liverpool scouts came back to him with positive reports.

He has since ordered Anfield chiefs to pay whatever Real ask to sign the £70m-rated Croatia international.

However, offers that have been received for Kovacic have been rebuffed as Real have no intention of offloading the former Inter Milan man.

And this has been reiterated by the player’s agent Nikky Vuksan, who outlined his client has no desire to leave the Bernabeu.

He said: “There is no news, or rather, there is no chance that any will be produced, absolutely.

“Mateo has a very long contract with Real Madrid, until 2021.

“Therefore I do not understand all of these rumours, all of this speculation about his future.

“Kovacic plays for a great club like Real Madrid and is very happy. Each day I listen and read news stories that explain a possible exit, but it is not true, at all.

“He has an optimal relationship with his team-mates and with the coach, therefore I reiterate it clearly.

“Kovacic will not leave Real Madrid, he will stay, (I can) safely (say that). All the rest is not true.”