Does Coutinho deserve a UCL Winner's Medal? A non-Liverpool fan's verdict
Winning the Champions League is no mean feat. No team had ever won the cup competition twice in a row until Real Madrid achieved the feat by winning the trophy in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons. This season, they play Liverpool in the finals. Six-time winners Liverpool will be looking to defy all the odds and deny Los Blancos a hat-trick.
If the English club wins the final, the owners will have a big decision to make. They will have forty winner's medals to give out. One of the players who was a part of their group stage run is Philippe Coutinho. But he left the club in the middle of their dream run in the Champions Le. According to The Telegraph, Coutinho is going to receive his medal if the Reds win the Champions League.
This decision has split football fans. Some fans think it was the wrong decision, considering how Coutinho left the Reds when they needed him to stay at least until the end of the season. Some others, myself included, believe that Coutinho deserves the Winner's Medal because he was a part of the team that won first place in the group stage. He played a crucial role in that journey, with five goals and two assists in five games.
Looking back, one of the reasons Liverpool have made it so far is their luck. Having topped the group, they went on to face FC Porto. Then they would go on to face a Manchester City team whose tricks they had already figured out, and surprise semi-finalists AS Roma. Had they finished second, however, they could have faced Barcelona or PSG in the round of 16!
Coutinho helped Liverpool to the top of their Champions League group. Whether they would have done so without him is an unsolvable mystery. Some may say that the Reds have been better off without the Little Magician. But whatever happened, happened. The past cannot be changed. No one can check what would have happened had Coutinho not been playing in the group stage. And based on whatever happened, he deserves his medal.
Coutinho's departure did not have any effect on Liverpool's run. One team it did affect was Chelsea. With Coutinho among their ranks, Barcelona had the comfort of resting Messi for their league game against Malaga. This, in turn, led to a Messi masterclass which knocked the Blues out. Had Liverpool been in Chelsea's place, Coutinho would surely take a lot of the blame, both for leaving and for strengthening their European rivals. But no one would talk about the winner's medal dilemma then
Speaking of Barcelona and winner's medals, Coutinho would not qualify for a medal if Barcelona were to win the Champions League, regardless of the amount of indirect impact he had on their run. By the same logic, Coutinho deserves a medal for his contributions. So does
perennial hospital patient Daniel Sturridge.
To summarise it all, Coutinho helped Liverpool to the top of the group, which led to a relatively easy Round of 16 tie. His departure did not affect Liverpool's performances, neither did it enhance the performances of any of their opponents. Most importantly, he would not have won a winner's medal if Barcelona won the cup. Therefore, I conclude that Coutinho deserves his winner's medal.
This is a post made by an individual contributor and does not represent the views of Sportskeeda.