Philippe Coutinho – Decision Time For Liverpool’s Barcelona Linked Brazilian

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Barcelona have lost Brazilian superstar Neymar to French giants PSG this summer. For most of this transfer window, Barca have being courting another Brazilian playmaker and have made no secret of their admiration for him. With Neymar now signed for PSG, the player they want to bring in to replace him is Liverpool’s little magician, Philippe Coutinho.

While it is no secret that Barcelona are big fans of Coutinho, the player himself now has a decision to make. Give Liverpool one last season and help them win that elusive Premier League title, or jump ship to Barcelona and become a cog in the Catalan steam roller.

Coutinho is a beloved figure around Anfield and a firm fan favourite. His stock has risen considerably this summer due to his professional behaviour with all the transfer rumours flying around. Unlike other players who would sulk and throw their toys out of the pram when a big club comes looking for them Coutinho has continued to play to the best of his ability and show Liverpool fans why we love him.

Coutinho leaving this summer would certainly give Jurgen Klopp a headache which he does not need with the Premier League season so close. For some he is irreplaceable. For me he is not. Liverpool have a few players who can take on the playmaker role in the team.

Klopp could move Adam Lallana into that role and allow him the freedom to move along the forward line. We all saw last season how effective Lallana was at pressing the opposition when Liverpool did not have the ball. Moving him into the number ten role could allow him the freedom to help out even more in those scenarios.

Another who could play Coutinho’s role is Roberto Firmino. We all know Klopp prefers Firmino to play as his false nine, but dropping him deeper could allow Daniel Sturridge back into the team.

Sturridge is one of, if not the, deadliest striker in the Premier League when he is fit and full of confidene. Having a trio of Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mo Salah around him would lessen the burden on him to be Liverpool’s match winner and this could only have a positive impact on him.

If Coutinho does leave Liverpool, the fume amongst the fans will be unbearable. And with it looking like Liverpool missing out on their two main transfer targets this summer, keeping hold of Coutinho is imperative.

He is the difference between Liverpool winning the league and them finishing second. On his day, there is no one better than him in the league. His range of passing and vision is something that no one else is capable of doing.

The only player who comes close to Coutinho in terms of ability, range of passing and setting up attacks is Chelsea’s Eden Hazard. After a difficult time under Jose Mourinho, Hazard, over the last two seasons, is back to his best. It comes as no surprise that Real Madrid are once again monitoring the Belgian player in an attempt to lure him away from Stamford Bridge.

Head To Head

  • Last season, Coutinho made thirty one appearances and scored thirteen goals with a goals per match ratio of .42%. He made seven assists making 1,402 passes and 126 crosses. He also made fifteen through balls and seventy two accurate long balls.
  • He made thirty five defensive tackles and eighteen interceptions. He won 129 recoveries and seventy of his 50/50’s. He only missed four big chances.
  • Hazard in comparison made thirty six appearances for Chelsea scoring sixteen goals. His goals per match ratio was .44%. He made five assists and 1,750 passes and made eighty four crosses. He made six long balls and one hundred and fourteen accurate long balls.
  • He made eighteen defensive tackles and twenty eight interceptions. He won one hundred and seventy recoveries and one hundred and fourty three successful 50/59’s. Hazard missed nine big chances.

 

I know a lot of fans of other clubs will argue that their individual teams have players as good if not better than Coutinho and Hazard, but they are the two best players at what they do. They are a joy to watch and when the ball is at their feet are always dangerous to opposition defences.

Coutinho owes Liverpool one more season. He is just starting to find form and has been Liverpool’s stand out player in pre season.

Klopp’s decision to move him deeper is paying dividends and he has formed a formidable partnership with Salah after only a few games together. The club took a risk on him when they signed him from Inter Milan and turned him in to the player he is today. If he can help Liverpool to a title win next season losing him to Barcelona or PSG will not be as big a blow as it would be if he leaves this summer.

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