With the pen having met the paper and the ink drying, Liverpool have secured Philippe Coutinho’s services for the foreseeable future. The Brazilian playmaker has agreed to a fresh deal at Anfield, ending the mild levels of doubt about his future.
And while the contract situation regarding Raheem Sterling remains unresolved, tying down the ex-Inter Milan starlet is a massive boost for the Reds.
Deadline day and January as a whole provided Liverpool supporters with none of the additions they may have hoped for, but keeping Coutinho could prove to be one of, if not the, best deals of 2015 so far, and here are FIVE reasons why…
Dubbed a “little magician” by his manager Brendan Rodgers, Coutinho is clearly a vital cog in the Reds attack. The switch to a 3-4-3 formation since the turn of the year has coincided with a massive surge in points at Anfield, with the Merseyside out the Premier League’s form team in 2015. A major part of this rise has been Coutinho’s presence in an attacking three, with his vision, eye for the killer pass, dynamism and all-round superb technique all put to use in the area of the pitch where the results are most lethal.
Coutinho has dipped in and out of an unimpressive Liverpool team thus far this season, yet he’s still notched four assists and two goals, and with his form improving week by week, these numbers are likely to grow exponentially.
Forget ‘SAS’ Liverpool could now have ‘SACAS’… or ‘CASAS’… or even ‘SASAC’ to lighten the mood at Anfield. All joking aside, Reds fans were treated to a glimpse of Coutinho, Sterling and Sturridge together up front for 20 minutes of the West Ham win – with the latter back from injury – and the results were positive.
Coutinho had already fed Sterling with an excellent assist, and he once again picked out Sturridge for the second goal – the third musketeer had been involved in the build-up – to show just how promising they could be in tandem. Gerrard, who?
This was, perhaps, better…
Goals do indeed win football games, and even Brendan Rodgers has admitted that finding the back of the net is all that’s keeping his midfield ace from becoming “world class”:
““If he can continue to improve – he can improve his goal scoring ability – then he will get into that bracket of being world class.” Rodgers said.
“He has got a wonderful strike on him, inside and outside the box. It will just be about arriving in areas where he can make movements without the ball because once he is in there he has got a decent finish on him.”
Although his finish in the massive win against Man City last season was impressive, Coutinho does not hit the back of the net with regularity – he has 10 in almost 70 games for Liverpool – which is without doubt the weakest area of his all-round game.
It’s sad to admit, but football is becoming, more than ever, a game of numbers, and we don’t mean the good kind (goals, assists, points, etc…) Liverpool are not a financial superpower in the same way the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City are, so buying low and selling high is something the Merseysiders look to be keen to do – Fernando Torres and Luis Suarez are prime examples.
With time on his deal and the scope to improve, there’s no reason to suggest Coutinho may not be the next ‘money-ball’ man at Anfield, with his value now way above the £8.5m paid for him in 2013.
The summer gone provided the ultimate indication that Liverpool really cannot keep their players from the biggest teams. Luis Suarez had only signed a new contract over the winter and suggested that he wanted to stay for Champions League football, but on the back the World Cup (which was eventful for the striker…) he joined Barcelona in a £75m deal.
Coutinho was, 12 months before, linked with a move alongside ‘El Pistolero’ to Real Madrid, and there’s no reason to suggest Los Blancos will not revisit the Brazilian if he continues to impress. But, with a few more zeros on his salary and years on his contract, they may be able to resist bids for a while…