Philippe Coutinho is back at Liverpool and ready for what could be the most important season of his career to date. The Brazilian has the potential to become a world class player and challenge for the PFA Player of the Year award. If he had avoided injury during the last campaign, he would have been a strong contender to rival N’Golo Kante for the award.
This season, he will be playing in the Champions League once again and it could be his time to prove that he is ready to take the final step to become one of the best midfielders in Europe. There has been interest in him from PSG and that there will be many Liverpool supporters who are worrying about his future. However, the Mirror reported that he is happy at Anfield and posted the following quotes:
“I am very happy to be back here and I am ready to start pre-season. It was nice to come back in and see my team-mates. I’m not training with them yet, but soon I will be back with them and I’m looking forward to that.”
Furthermore, according to the oddsmakers at this site, Coutinho will stay. They believe PSG want him [Coutinho] because Kylian Mbappe looks like he is going to stay in Monaco, but the Brazilian says he wants to stay in Liverpool. After all, Jurgen Klopp’s side signed him to a five-year contract with no buyout this January so they are evidently more than aware of his importance. Currently, it is 2/3 odds that he stays in Liverpool.
How important is it that the Reds keep him this summer?
It is crucial that Liverpool resist any offers for the Brazilian this summer, even if they receive one for an eye-watering amount. Coutinho is the most talented player in the Reds’ squad and he is quickly developing into a consistent performer under Jurgen Klopp. His problem before last season was that he could go missing for chunks of the season, but he showed maturity and he will be keen to continue on that positive track when the Premier League starts in August.
Liverpool have signed Mo Salah this summer from Roma and that does create an interesting selection issue for Klopp. The German will want the Egyptian on the pitch at the same time as Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane to maximise the team’s goal-scoring potential. One option could be a 4-4-2 diamond which would be fluid in reality, allowing Salah and Mane to play as split strikers, leaving a gap in the centre for Firmino to exploit. Coutinho would then play in one of the deeper midfield roles, but be given the freedom to roam in the attacking half, as that is when he is at his most dangerous.
There are a number of tactical options open to Klopp and that is exciting for Liverpool fans. The player that is most important to the side is Coutinho. He possesses the most talent and he showed that last season. He contributed 13 goals and seven assists, with an impressive goal involvement every 112.25 minutes. His average of 2.1 key passes and 2.3 dribbles per game underline the danger that he causes.
Is he a legitimate contender for 2018 PFA Player of the Year?
Not many would have predicted N’Golo Kante at the beginning of last season and even fewer would have thought Riyad Mahrez would have won the award the year before. It is becoming less predictable, but Philippe Coutinho will start the season as one of the favourites for the award, especially given Eden Hazard will miss the opening few weeks.
Liverpool now have the stage and the coach that gives Coutinho the best chance of fulfilling his potential. At the age of 25, this season will show us whether the Brazilian can become one of the best players in Europe or remain part of the tier below.
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