Three reasons why Philippe Coutinho’s deal is great Liverpool business
Three reasons why Philippe Coutinho's new Liverpool deal is one of January's best bits of business
There is more to come from Little Phil
Philippe Coutinho has certainly been Liverpool’s standout player in January. The diminutive playmaker did his utmost to breakdown a stubborn Chelsea defence in the League Cup, but when he did manage to weave some magic, Thibaut Courtois was standing in the way. Still, it was refreshing to see the normally unshakeable Nemanja Matic scurrying to recover position against the pace of Coutinho and Raheem Sterling. The former Inter Milan man created Sterling’s strike against the Hammers at the weekend with a brilliant lifted pass, before slotting in Daniel Sturridge to seal a 2-0 win. Liverpool fans have become accustomed to such delicious assists this season, making four in the Premier League. It is no surprise Brendan Rodgers has likened his Brazilian to Real Madrid star, Luka Modric. But like the former Spurs man, Coutinho needs to add goals to his repertoire to become the full package. Two in 25 appearances for the current campaign is a disappointing return, especially as Coutinho managed eight in 31 games last term. The Liverpool manager has demanded an improvement from his little magician in terms of goals, and if he can do that, Coutinho will earn comparisons to the likes of Chelsea forward Eden Hazard and Manchester City’s David Silva.
He’s is still only 22
Giving his impressive performances towards the back end of the 2013-14 campaign and increased importance in the absence of Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez this season, it is easy to forget Philippe Coutinho is just 22. The Brazil international had already accumulated 50 appearances for Inter Milan at 19 before swapping the San Siro for Anfield. Add into the mix his 16 La Liga appearances during a loan spell at Espanyol under Mauricio Pochettino in 2012, and you have a well-travelled young midfielder. Coutinho’s new long-term contract means the South American won’t be moving location any time soon, which is an exciting thought as he continues to develop and grow as a Premier League footballer. It also helps to keep away any potential suitors.
The Brazilian has adapted to Premier League’s physicality
For a player standing at 5ft 7½ins, there was understandable concerns surrounding Coutinho’s suitability to the hustle and bustle of the Premier League. After all, if the former Vasco Da Gama forward couldn’t cut it in Serie A, what chance did he have in England? Over the past 12 months, Coutinho has become noticeably more physical and robust – something which he was keen to highlight during a “six-pack off” with Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge. Coutinho has made an average of 1.4 tackles per game, which is 0.3 more than Raheem Sterling, who would arguably be considered a stouter defender on the rare occasions that he is forced on the back foot. Additionally, only Sterling has completed more Premier League minutes than Coutinho out of all Liverpool’s forward-thinking players – and he didn’t get a mid-season holiday, either!