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3 Reasons why Liverpool should bring back Philippe Coutinho this summer | Premier League 2019-20

Scott Newman
SENIOR ANALYST
Feature
Modified 10 Feb 2020, 22:21 IST

Currently on loan at Bayern Munich, could Philippe Coutinho return to Liverpool?
Currently on loan at Bayern Munich, could Philippe Coutinho return to Liverpool?

Philippe Coutinho’s transfer to Barcelona from Liverpool in January 2018 for a huge fee of around €120m made the Brazilian the second-most expensive footballer of all time, but two years later, it’s safe to say that the move didn’t turn out to be a great one for the playmaker.

Coutinho scored 8 goals and registered 5 assists in his first half-season at the Nou Camp, but after struggling for traction there during 2018-19 – scoring just 5 goals in only 22 La Liga starts – the Brazilian moved to Bayern Munich on loan during the summer. Unfortunately, he has also failed to impress in Germany, meaning any chance of a permanent move now seems unlikely.

Reports are now emerging that Barca may want to part company with the Brazilian this summer – and could potentially include him in a swap deal for Neymar. It looks like a move back to the Premier League could be on the cards for Coutinho – and one of his rumoured suitors is his former club, Liverpool.

So could the Reds re-sign the player their fans once labelled ‘The Magician’?

Here are 3 reasons why they should.


#1 He’d provide their midfield with a much-needed creative spark

Coutinho was Liverpool
Coutinho was Liverpool's primary creative source during his time with the club

Liverpool have undoubtedly had a fantastic season thus far, and it’s looking ever more likely now that they will win their first Premier League title once May rolls around. However, for all of their brilliance, Jurgen Klopp’s Reds do have one potential weakness, and that’s a lack of natural creativity in midfield.

Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, Georginio Wijnaldum and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are all fantastic players in their own right, but it’s very telling that the 4 have just 5 Premier League assists between them – 4 of them coming from Henderson. Essentially, Liverpool haven’t had a genuine playmaker since they sold Coutinho to Barcelona two years ago.

The Reds score plenty of goals, though, so how do they manage it? Well, their front trio – Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah – create plenty of goals for one another, but their main source of creativity comes from their full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson, who have 16 Premier League assists to their name thus far.

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This system has definitely worked wonders for Klopp thus far, but everyone’s system gets found out at some point, and so you have to ask what would happen if rivals were able to prevent Alexander-Arnold and Robertson from coming forward – or if either man picked up a long-term injury.

That’s why it’d be a smart idea to bring Coutinho back to Anfield. The Brazilian is a naturally creative player capable of finding passes that midfielders like Henderson and Wijnaldum simply aren’t, and in 2017-18, for instance, he contributed 6 assists in just 14 games prior to moving to the Nou Camp.

With the option of using the Brazilian as their primary creative source, Liverpool’s reliance on their full-backs as attacking outlets would be eased, and of course, the danger to opposing teams would undoubtedly rise. The Reds are already a phenomenal attacking force – adding one of the world’s best playmakers back into the mix would make them terrifying.


#2 He wouldn’t need much preparation to get up to speed

Unlike alternative signings, Coutinho is well aware of the demands that Jurgen Klopp makes of his players
Unlike alternative signings, Coutinho is well aware of the demands that Jurgen Klopp makes of his players

One hallmark of Jurgen Klopp’s reign at Anfield has been the fact that whenever he makes a new signing – particularly in midfield – it takes them a decent amount of time to get to grips with the way the German boss operates and get used to exactly what he demands from his players.

Sure, Mohamed Salah and Virgil Van Dijk slotted right into Klopp’s system, but the same can’t be said for others. Fabinho, for instance, looked miles off the pace when he initially arrived at Anfield, with the Brazilian admitting himself that he wasn’t used to the intensity of the Premier League. But since he’s settled in, he’s become one of the league’s strongest holding midfielders.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also struggled upon arriving at Anfield and took time to settle in, while Klopp barely even deployed Andrew Robertson for months after signing him before he became one of the Reds’ primary attacking threats. It could even be argued that Naby Keita has never quite gotten used to life as a Liverpool player.

That’s why it’d make sense for Liverpool to look to bring back Coutinho, rather than attempting to sign another potential target such as Bayer Leverkusen’s Kai Havertz. Havertz has never experienced the Premier League, let alone life under Klopp, while ‘The Magician’ of course spent almost 6 seasons at Anfield – two-and-a-half of them under the German boss.

Coutinho, therefore, would return to Liverpool with the knowledge of exactly what Klopp expects from his players, and also the experience of playing alongside the Reds’ other stars like Salah, Jordan Henderson and Roberto Firmino from his previous stint at the club.

There would be no settling-in period required; sure, it might take the Brazilian a short period to become acclimatised to Premier League action again, but that would not likely take very long. And being a proven commodity in England, Coutinho’s signing would basically be risk-free, unlike a player moving to the Premier League for the first time.


#3 Liverpool’s fans would rejoice

Coutinho was beloved by Liverpool fans during his time at Anfield
Coutinho was beloved by Liverpool fans during his time at Anfield

Coutinho might’ve drawn the ire of Liverpool fans with his move to Barcelona – essentially, he forced his way out of the club despite the Reds’ powerbrokers, including Klopp, attempting to convince him to stay at Anfield – but there’s no disputing that while he was a Liverpool player, he was beloved by the Kop. The proof is in the pudding, essentially – the Brazilian was voted Liverpool Fans Player of the Season in both 2014-15 and 2015-16.

So would Liverpool fans like to see the man they christened ‘The Magician’ back in the famous red shirt? The likely answer is yes. A poll taken by the Liverpool Echo last summer, for instance, suggested that of 30,000 Reds fans to respond, over two-thirds of them wanted to see the Brazilian return to Anfield.

The fact that Coutinho’s agent, Kia Joorabchian, also stated that Liverpool “lies deeply in (Coutinho’s) heart” and that he’d likely never join another Premier League club is just more evidence of the strong links between the Brazilian and the Reds’ fanbase. Could those fans who were angry at the way he left forgive him? At first perhaps not, but after a goal or two, they would almost certainly forget their anger.

More to the point, bringing back Coutinho would be the kind of marquee transfer that would send a big statement of intent from Liverpool to the rest of Europe’s giants. Despite their on-pitch success, the Reds can’t compete on a financial level with the likes of Barca, Real Madrid and the two Manchester clubs – instead, the Reds need to be smarter. And bringing back a superstar like Coutinho – even on a cut-price deal – would definitely be the kind of smart deal that would have Liverpool fans rejoicing.

Published 10 Feb 2020, 22:21 IST
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