Liverpool

Coutinho Has Copied Suarez To Shine At Liverpool

 • by Simon Collings
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It looked for a long time this summer like we may never see Philippe Coutinho in a Liverpool shirt again.

After selling Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain for a world record £200m, Barcelona set their sights on the attacking midfielder. More often than not when that is the case the Spanish giants get their man.

This time, though, they failed.

Three bids went in for Coutinho – the last of which was believed to be in the region of £114m – but all of them were knocked backed by Liverpool.

Even the Brazilian’s transfer request was rejected by the club.

Liverpool’s stance was simple – Coutinho would not be leaving for any amount of money.

In the end, the Reds ruthlessly stuck to their guns and given what we have seen from the 25-year-old since his time at Anfield it is understandable.

On his day, Coutinho is unplayable. His qualities greatly differ from the rest of attackers in Jürgen Klopp’s armoury.

Coutinho provides the guile and vision to go alongside the blistering pace offered by the likes of Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah.

The attacking midfielder is the perfect foil to Liverpool’s lightning forward line and, given how little time was left in the transfer window, he would have been almost impossible to replace.

He’s showed it ever since returning to the fold. A wonder goal and an assist against Leicester City was followed up with an emphatic finish against Spartak Moscow in the Champions League.

Coutinho then scored against Newcastle United and was involved in three goals during the midweek 7-0 rout of Maribor in the Champions League, finding the net once and assisting twice.

Barcelona claimed they could have got their man if they had stumped up £185m. Liverpool have flatly denied such an accusation.

But either way the air seems to be clearing around the Coutinho saga.

The 25-year-old returned to Merseyside from international duty with the back injury that initially kept him out of action fully recovered. Suspicions were raised when such an injury occurred as talk of a move to Barcelona grew, but medical staff in Brazil claim it was caused by aniexty.

“Coutinho’s back problem? He is okay now. The back problem was a matter of stress, it was something emotional,” Michael Simon told Esporte.

“The uncertainty about his future led him to feeling stressed. Everything is solved now.

“Coutinho and I are friends for years, I always treat his medical cases. All he needed was someone to give him a pep talk.”

Whether fans believe such a story is quickly becoming irrelevant.

Coutinho is back at Liverpool now and Klopp has moved on following a difficult summer.

“Of course – all good, all good,” Klopp previously told Liverpool’s official website.

“It’s of course different because Phil, I know what people think, but Phil had the back problem a few weeks ago and couldn’t train so that means he missed around about three weeks.

“We always have the same decision to make, ‘does he need training or can he play?’ and all that stuff.

“Yes, he will now do a little bit more than the other boys but he showed up in a very, very good mood and looks really promising.

“Nothing else to say, actually, so he’s back and we had a really good conversation, so good.”

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After everything that has happened this summer surrounding Coutinho, it is hard to imagine him back to his best in a Liverpool shirt.

However, the Reds are no stranger to this situation and they can look forward with optimism if they only glance to the past.

Coutinho’s situation brings back memories of the Luis Suarez transfer saga that dominated the summer of 2013.

After Liverpool missed out on the Champions League, the Uruguay international asked to leave. The Reds though, once again, were having none of it.

Suarez argued he had an agreement with the club in place that he could go if someone bid over £40m.

However, Arsenal’s offer of £40m and £1 was swiftly rejected.

“What do you think they’re smoking over there at Emirates?” tweeted owner John W Henry.

Suarez threatened to get the Professional Footballers’ Association involved and hand in a transfer request.

But, just as they did with Coutinho, Liverpool kept their man.

After all that had gone on it seemed impossible that Suarez would shine at Anfield. However, once the transfer window shut, the striker burst into life and had the season that took him up to the level of a world-class player.

He finished the campaign with 31 Premier League goals and collected the PFA Player of the Year award.

Suarez also shared the European Golden Shoe with Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo as he cemented his place among the world’s top players.

After a stunning season, the striker then finally got his big move as Barcelona snapped him up for around £65m.

It was a full £25m more than Liverpool could have banked only a year earlier and Suarez had also secured himself a switch to Barca instead of Arsenal. In his first season he won the treble – the move had been worth the wait.

It is from this lesson that both Coutinho and Liverpool should draw inspiration going forward. For Liverpool, they now have someone on their hands who can showcase that he is a world-class player as, like Suarez was four years ago, he builds up to a World Cup.

Indeed, as was the case then, Liverpool may also find themselves banking even more money by delaying the sale of Coutinho a year.

For the Brazilian, Suarez should show him that just because he didn’t move this summer his dream isn’t over. If Coutinho knuckles down and performs on the pitch then Barcelona, or another big club, will be back.

What’s more, he can leave Liverpool in the manner Suarez did – as a world-class player and with the blessing of the fans.

Good things really do come to those who wait.

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