Two years ago Liverpool signed star midfielder Philippe Coutinho. Now, Jack Lusby says he is Brendan Rodgers’ best signing so far.
This week marks two years on from Liverpool’s signing of Philippe Coutinho, and the Brazilian playmaker has proven to be a remarkably astute piece of business for the club, and perhaps manager Brendan Rodgers’ best signing to date.
An £8.5 million signing from Inter Milan, Coutinho joined with a burgeoning reputation after some impressive performances in Serie A, and previously Vasco de Gama in Brazil.
However, Coutinho found his first-team prospects limited at Inter, and Liverpool took a gamble on the midfielder in January 2013.
The risk has paid off, and Coutinho is now one of Liverpool’s most important players, with a great potential to develop even further.
Highlights So Far
Along with Daniel Sturridge, Coutinho took quickly and comfortably to life on Merseyside, and the pair lifted Liverpool in the second half of the 2012/13 season.
The most outstanding showcase of their respective talents that term came in the 3-1 away victory over Fulham in May.
Coutinho was in inspired form, laying on two goals for hat-trick hero Sturridge.
The effortlessness with which produced a perfectly weighted, precisely lobbed through-ball for Sturridge’s third goal of the day outlines the confidence and sheer natural vision that Coutinho possesses.
This was also seen with his ball through for Sturridge in the 5-1 mauling of Arsenal last term.
Coutinho truly announced himself against Fulham, but even more took notice of the 22-year-old as a game-changer with his winning goal in last season’s 3-2 victory over Manchester City.
Latching onto a miserable attempt at a clearance from City captain Vincent Kompany, Coutinho’s drive—with considerable technique in terms of the angle and pace of the shot—eluded Joe Hart.
The timing of the goal and the sense of occasion highlighted Liverpool’s credibility in the title race, and elected Coutinho as one of the main figures behind Rodgers’ side’s unexpected charge up the Premier League table.
Though Liverpool eventually fell short in the title race, finishing second, Coutinho’s form was hugely encouraging, and the No. 10 took this into a sublime pre-season run.
Coutinho was sensational in the 4-0 Anfield victory over Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool’s conductor in what was a strong victory over the Bundesliga powerhouse.
Luckily, this wasn’t a pre-season blip—Coutinho has taken this form into the 2014/15 season.
Room For Improvement?
This season Coutinho is reaching a new level of consistency, and is thriving in a focal role in Rodgers’ 3-4-2-1 system.
Since moving into this system, he has created 15 chances for his teammates in six Premier League games, including two assists, with a central role a key factor in his rise to form.
Coutinho is now showing a consistency in the creative flourish, the front-footed tenacity and the occasion-grabbing influence that he showed in flashes in seasons previous—the 22-year-old is one of Liverpool’s key players, and should be one of the first on Rodgers’ team-sheet for every game.
Coutinho recently credited his manager with this improvement, and his thriving in the English game:
“He gave me time to adapt. The physicality takes you by surprise. When you put your head up in England, you see two or three players ready to hit you…The intensity, the speed is what really takes time to adjust. You can never relax for a minute in one game. In Brazil, Italy and Spain you have time and space to play the ball.”
The big talking point at the moment is whether Coutinho, with just 18 months left on his current deal, will sign a new contract at Liverpool.
But the midfielder allayed these fears emphatically, claiming: “I would be very happy to stay here for a long time and, maybe, I could become like one of the great players who have been here.”
To do so, Coutinho must continue this consistent approach and add to his game—namely in terms of goals, which he has recognised.
At just 22 years old, Coutinho expresses a determination and commitment to develop into a world-class player and a Liverpool great.
Arguably, these qualities are as important as his contribution on the field.
Transfer Strategy Vindicated
Coutinho’s signing was described by many as a gamble, not least by BBC Sport’s Simon Austin:
“[Coutinho] remains a player for the future, rather than a star of the present, and Liverpool have taken a calculated gamble…It will be fascinating to see whether the player can now finally reach his potential with Liverpool, or simply remain a great hope.”
Clearly we are seeing Coutinho progressing to his full potential at Liverpool, and this goes some way to vindicate an often-criticised transfer strategy.
Coutinho and Sturridge were both arguably risk signings, players who had showed huge potential at other clubs but had fallen at the wayside somewhat, with their chances limited.
Liverpool were to capitalise on these players’ club situation, snapping them up for low fees and maximising their potential.
Rodgers is an advocate of players with character and hunger, players who are desperate to succeed, with Liverpool the perfect backdrop to do so.
Coutinho has shown that he can become a world-class player on Merseyside, and his £8.5 million fee now looks a pittance.
The impetus by Liverpool supporters now, especially after having tasted the Champions League and the world-class majesty of Luis Suarez, is on the club to sign established, top-class players, but it has been proven that the club no longer has that clout in the transfer market.
Instead, players like Coutinho must be sought out and nurtured.
Two years on, Philippe Coutinho is looking like a sensational piece of business by Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers, his best signing yet.
How much is Philippe Coutinho worth to Liverpool now? Let us know in the comments below.