It’s been 18 months since Liverpool announced the signing of little Brazilian wizard, Coutinho. At the time he was nothing more than another technically gifted South American trying to crack it in Europe. Everybody with eyes could see the youngster’s qualities. Confortable in possession, ability to go past defenders and an eye for the killer ball as good as anybody.
There were problems though. A seeming lack of work ethic and a tendency to try and force things to happen meant that we would often hand over possession cheaply, which was something that many scout couldn’t stomach. The problems seemed so large for his club, Inter Milan, that they were happy to let him leave for the English Premier League and Liverpool for a measly 7.5 million GBP. It is a valuation that has probably trebled since the original deal was signed off, which leads to the question, what did Brendan Rodgers see that those at Inter Milan plainly missed?
For me the answer came in the reds 5-0 demolition of Arsenal at Anfield last season. Not only did Coutinho rip apart a shaky looking Gunners backline with his killer through balls for Daniel Sturridge, but there was also a hunger to battle, a determination to win that was probably missing during his stint in Italy. But it was a quality that Rodgers had seen and has since brought to the fore. He was like a little bull terrier off the ball that day and would have given Arsenal’s, Jack Wilshere, nightmares with the Brazilian chomping and biting at the England internationals ankles for 90 minutes. It was a performance that had many people questioning why he was nowhere to be found in Brazil’s World Cup squad.
“Philippe Coutinho is the brain in our team – the continuity player. He might not score many goals, but he’s a wonderful reference for the team,” said Liverpool boss, Brendan Rodgers, after Coutinho starred against Rome in Boston.
“He is the one that gets this team ticking, gets the movement in front of the ball. He goes and gets on the ball. He’s a fantastic talent for such a young player and he’s still gaining his fitness, so he will only get better.”
There are times when Coutinho still tries to force the issue when a little patience may be what is in order. The Brazilian has it all. He is still only 22 and with Suarez gone we could see him step in to the limelight and become a true legend by leading Liverpool to glory this season.