Key Track: Just What I Needed - The Cars
Brendan Rodgers struck gold in January with the £8.5m capture of Philippe Coutinho from Inter Milan. It is baffling that Inter let him go so cheaply, but nevertheless Coutinho was just what Liverpool needed. Young, talented, and humble, he symbolizes a brighter future for the club.
Coutinho was a silver lining in an otherwise disheartening second half of football at Anfield, flashing an electric style of play that fit perfectly in Brendan Rodgers' passing system. Even possession based tactics such as the one Liverpool employ require players who can play a good final ball or burst past a defender. It is this ability to immediately change the course of a match that outside of Luis Suarez was largely missing for Liverpool until they found Coutinho.
And after such a dazzling debut, it is easy to forget that Coutinho just turned 21 last month. That means that he is still years away from the prime of his career. That is both exciting and nerve racking. So often, players falter while making the transition from up and comer to star, and while all signs point to Coutinho being able to make the jump, it is impossible to tell what obstacles he'll face.
While it was only a half season, Coutinho's performance for Liverpool solidifies him as a cornerstone in the rebuilding process that is trying to return the team back to its place in the Champions League. Alongside him will be a plethora of other young and talented players such as Raheem Sterling and Jordan Ibe, who will be watched with an equal expectation. In a sense, the pressure on Coutinho has been minimized by the fact that there are so many other talented young players deflecting the scrutiny away from him.
In many ways, Philippe Coutinho is the opposite of Luis Suarez. Suarez is extremely outward with his passion and isn't shy of speaking his mind while Coutinho lets his play do the talking. Suarez was the Ajax big shot that scored 49 goals in a season and was bought for a substantial fee while Coutinho was cast off by Inter Milan after failing to fit in Italy. Various Suarez side shows have kept him from becoming the heir to Gerrard's title as face of the club, and it may be Coutinho's less divisive manner that will eventually push the Brazilian into that role.
Season Rating: 10
There was nothing more he could have done. It'll be a treat watching him tear defenses apart for years to come while silencing an easily displeased media with his exemplary conduct.
Now watch this and be happy.