Coutinho makes Liverpool more likely than Arsenal to sign Willian

The long-term plan to move Philippe Coutinho into the number 10 role off a lone striker is no secret at Liverpool, but Brendan Rodgers appears hesitant to implement this strategy without the relevant quality of player to start in the wider roles in his preferred 4-3-3 formation.

This means that Coutinho is almost certain to continue to be employed off the left for the time being, especially now that Liverpool’s wide options have been further diminished by Stewart Downing’s move to Liverpool.

Rodgers has already attempted to strengthen his attacking unit this summer, but approaches for Diego Costa and Henrikh Mkhitaryan have fallen short.

Undeterred, Liverpool have now been linked with talented Brazilian Willian, who is being allowed to depart Anzhi as part of a cost-cutting mission, despite the fact he only joined the Russian side for £32m earlier in 2013.

Willian has provided the most assists and created the most chances in the Russian top-flight this season and he would be a more than suitable alternative to Coutinho off the left flank, especially if given licence to roam in-field.

A marquee signing would not go amiss at Anfield this summer and the acquisition of the 25-year-old would make Liverpool even greater candidates for a first top-four finish since 2008/09, for which they can be backed at 13/8.

Arsenal’s name has also cropped up in the same sentence as Willian, but an attacking midfielder would appear almost last on their list of needs, maybe aside from left-back.

Santi Cazorla is ideal for the position, there is a possibility that Jack Wilshere may start in a more advanced position this season and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is pushing for more first-team minutes.

Arsenal are 4/6 to finish in the top four and it is their Champions League qualification spot that would seemingly be most at risk if Liverpool become more credible challengers.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.