Opinion

Why Philippe Coutinho won’t break Liverpool hearts and follow Luis Suarez to Barcelona

The Liverpool midfielder has been linked with a potential move to the La Liga giants in the January transfer window

With the international break taking hold over the past two weeks, Liverpool supporters were confronted with regular reports linking star man Philippe Coutinho with a big-money move to La Liga giants Barcelona.

The Brazil international’s electric Premier League performances have inevitably led to media speculation that Barcelona could tempt the Liverpool number 10 to Campo Nou – just as they did with Luis Suarez.

Liverpool supporters could be forgiven for showing alarm given the Suarez affair. Going from Premier League title challengers to an out-of-sorts top-seven side as Suarez won the treble with Barcelona was galling.

But there is no reason to suggest that Coutinho will do the same as Jurgen Klopp’s side looking to cement their place at the top of the Premier League table and maintain their title push.

Suarez had connections with Barcelona. His wife Sofia moved to Barcelona as a teenager with her family, prompting the besotted Uruguay striker to do his utmost to secure a move to Europe in 2006. Suarez started his journey on the continent with Eredivisie side Groningen before moving to Ajax one year later.

His agent was Pep Guardiola’s brother, Pere, who had obvious ties to the Catalan side.

Add into the mix that Suarez had dreamt of playing for Barcelona since a boy, the four-time European champions were always going to be able to flex their muscle and bring the South American to Cataluna.

Coutinho’s former Vasca da Gama coach offered worried Reds fans some hope amid the transfer speculation surrounding the Liverpool No10 in November. Rodney Goncalves rubbished the suggestion that the Brazilian had an underlying desire to play for Barcelona.

Coutinho has put down roots since his move to Liverpool in January 2013. His wife Aine has given birth to two children – Philippe Junior and Maria – since his £8.5m move to Anfield from Serie A giants Inter Milan.

There is a South American hub at the Merseyside club – too. Brazilian Lucas Leiva is the longest-serving Liverpool player in Jurgen Klopp’s squad. Roberto Firmino appears to have struck up a close friendship with Coutinho since the forward’s move to Liverpool from Hoffenheim in 2015.

This combination has flourished under Klopp and it looks like becoming one of the Premier League’s deadliest partnerships this season – the pair have already scored 10 goals and made eight assists in 11 top-flight games in 2016-17.

Coutinho is already a strong contender for the PFA player of the year award alongside Chelsea duo Diego Costa and Eden Hazard.

The Brazilian looks to be stepping out of the shadow of Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez and become Liverpool’s go-to player in difficult moments.

With a brilliant and charismatic manager pulling the strings on the sidelines, Coutinho could become Gerrard and Suarez’s equals if he can orchestrate a successful Premier League title bid.

While Coutinho would be dwarfed alongside Lionel Messi, Neymar and Suarez, Coutinho could become Gerrard and Suarez’s equals if he can orchestrate a successful Premier League title bid with a brilliant manager pulling the strings on the sidelines.

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