Mahesh takes an in-depth look at the Brazilian midfielder strongly linked with a move to Liverpool this January, Inter’s Coutinho.
The silly season is back and after days of pulling on our hairs on whether or not Sneijder will deem our wage offer good enough to grace Anfield, he decides, inconsiderate of what we will do with our otherwise dreary lives without a transfer speculation to talk about, to end the transfer saga and join the Turkish giants Galatasaray. Well if you were wondering on how those office hours will pass without checking the internet every 10 minutes or so for the latest transfer news, don’t worry because thankfully the rumor mill has churned up another name, Philippe Coutinho. The Inter Milan number 7 is indeed a special talent and as a Liverpool supporter it is heartening to see our club linked with such talented players. It just shows the progress we are making as a team. Without further ado, presenting Philippe Coutinho:
Date of Birth: 12 June 1992 (20 yrs old)
Place of Birth: Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Height: 5ft. 8in.
Club: Inter Milan
Previous Clubs: Vasco De Gama, Espanyol (loan 2012)
Position: Attacking Midfielder; Left, Right, Centre.
Career So Far
Scouted at a very young age of just 16, Philippe Coutinho was spotted by the Inter scouts after impressing in the Vasco da Gama youth setup. Inter wasted no time in signing the youngster on a €4 million deal that would let him stay in Brazil till he was 18. Coutinho became an integral part of the Vasco squad which was revamped after it was relegated into the Brazilian second tier and helped them gain promotion into the top tier. Impressing as a youngster, Coutinho had already made his name in Brazil as the next big thing. Hailed as the “future of Inter” by none other than Rafa, Coutinho began impressing under his guidance.
Under Ranieri however chances were fewer and far between and so, to further his development, he moved to Espanyol. At Espanyol under Pochettino who is renowned for his work with youth, he further grew as a player, scoring 5 goals in 16 games and becoming one of the central figures of the squad. Back with Inter in the current season, he has made a total of 11 appearances so far, 6 of which were in the Europa league. Having played in 3 different counties by the age of just 20, Coutinho is vastly experienced for his age.
Style of play
A very fast player with extremely quick feet, Coutinho is predominantly a left winger who likes to cut in and dribble at defenders. His lightning quick turns and changes in pace make him a very difficult player to defend against. Being extremely quick, he can leave most defenders trailing. Like a true Brazilian he has that samba flair, the ability to do the unexpected, and his dribbling is truly a pleasure to watch. He is not afraid to take on full-backs and there is that “freshness” in his dribbling that just keeps you guessing.
This quality of dribbling that he brings with him is very different from the unconventional dribbling that Suarez brings to the table and it adds a new facet to our offensive capabilities. His speed and control of the ball on the dribble makes him a very good counter-attacking threat and a trio of Suarez, Sturridge and Coutinho is truly fearsome. With a good technique and dribbling, he can hold up play high up the pitch too.
He has a peach of a first touch and has a very good awareness of the defenders around him. This enables him to take out the onrushing defenders with his first touch, something that even cultured wingers develop at a much later stage. His first touch also extends to his passing and he is very good at playing those quick one-twos in tight places. One of the most impressive things about him is after playing a pass, he does not linger and moves into those little pockets of space, and by moves I mean zips at full speed, and this is a very important aspect to the game especially higher up the pitch where you are constantly marked and space is at a premium. With his speed and movement linking up with him becomes very easy and he is always available for the next pass. Being comfortable with both his feet, he can dribble or pass off either foot.
Along with good ball skills, he can play passes too. He has a very good sense of the players around him and is good at noticing the movements and runs of his team mates. He is very comfortable drifting in central too. This is a huge plus point as Rodgers likes his players to be very fluid in their positioning which makes it all the more harder to be marked. Anyone who watched the Norwich match would have noticed Sturridge dropping deeper than Suarez in the last 5 minutes he played. This shows how Rodgers is trying to experiment with interchangeability between the players.
With Coutinho, this can be taken step further, with sturridge drifting out right, Suarez going up top, Coutinho coming central and Sterling swapping flanks from right to left. Coutinho adjusts his game well to his positions. Coming central, he dribbles a lot less and looks to pass more. This shows how he understands the nuances of different roles and servers as proof of his game intelligence. I can very much see him graduating into a more central role a few years down the line. He possesses all the technique, vision, thought and passing to succeed from a central position. Being two footed, he can and has played games on the right wing too, but he prefers the left wing to the right.
The loan to Espanyol has had a huge impact on his gameplay. Under Pochettino, he has grown as a player. He is now comfortable in holding up play higher up the pitch, comes deep to get the ball, and has gained mastery over free kicks. He has learnt the art of getting the ball to curl over the wall and bring it down in time. His set pieces have improved and he has started taking some of the corners for Inter Milan and he does provide good deliveries.
All said and done, he still has a lot to learn. His decision making still leaves room for improvement. He sometimes dribbles too much and gets himself into trouble. He is occasionally chooses to dribble instead of passing the ball when the pass would have been better. His choice of passing also needs to be a bit more refined so that he takes lesser risks when he plays a pass. For all the dribbling his finishing is a bit poor.
He would be the complete package if he could just find an end product to his game. He is a bit poor in the air but that is expected of such a player. And yeah, he cannot cross. He is also a bit injury prone and this may need the services of our medical team. He is a bit light weight for the premier league, but if the recent success of players like Mata and Hazard is anything to go by, he should do fine.
Impact on the team
Coutinho would be in contention for a starting berth as a left winger and would compete with Sterling primarily. His presence could also mean the Spanish starlet, Suso going out on loan. This would be very good for the development of the youngster if he goes out to a team where he can freely express his creativity. Playing just a few minutes a month under the scrutinizing eyes of the kop tends to put undue pressure on the player and may prove detrimental to his ability, so going out on loan where he can get a run of games, would do a world of good to Suso’s game. Having the variety of Sterling, Downing and Coutinho, each of whom can play on either wing and bring different abilities to the table can only bode well for the team.
If we do get the player at the Reported €10 million, it would be a very good piece of business considering the fact that he cost Inter 4 million in the first place four years back. He fits in well with the FSG policy of buying young talents with a good resale value and would be a quality addition to the team.
Browse our previous scout reports here.