Philippe Coutinho seemed set to sign for Barcelona this summer. He wanted to leave, Barcelona desperately wanted him, and the media made it look as though it was only a matter of time until the Brazilian winger was playing for perhaps the greatest club in world football. In fact, the only thing that prevented him from leaving was stubbornness of Liverpool’s board – they seemed absolutely adamant that he wouldn’t leave under any circumstances.
As the days and weeks went by and it became closer and closer to transfer deadline day, the prospect of Coutinho staying at Liverpool became all the more likely.
As you know, Coutinho did begrudgingly stay at Liverpool, which gave him an entirely new problem: winning over the fans. Would he be able to get back into the hearts’ of the Liverpool faithful? Will they welcome him back with open arms, despite him clearly showing he’d rather be at Barcelona? Simply put, yes – the majority excused his behaviour and were more than happy to see Coutinho back. Rightly so, too, because he’s a brilliant player who gives his side that extra little bit of magic.
Philippe Coutinho scored his first goal of the season in Saturday’s game against Leicester City – and what a goal it was! Liverpool had a free-kick from about 25 yards out. In typical Coutinho style, he strolled up to the ball and effortlessly curled it into the top corner.
Liverpool went on to win the game. It was a brilliant end-to-end display of attacking football and Coutinho, who was named the man of the match, was a huge part of that.
The World Cup is coming up and Coutinho will be desperate to nail down a spot in Brazil’s starting eleven. Although he’s a world-class player, Brazil have an entire squad of world-class players. There’s no guarantee he’ll get into the team, so it’s imperative he has a good season. It’s no surprise that as soon as the transfer window closed and the opportunity to move Barcelona was gone, he went straight back to smashing free-kicks into the top corner as if nothing had changed.
This season has the potential to be Coutinho’s best in a Liverpool shirt. He has all the correct incentives to play well – if this season goes well he could find himself in Brazil’s starting eleven at the 2018 World Cup. By playing well this season he’ll also show Barcelona just how badly they need him, pressuring them into making an offer for the 25-year-old that Liverpool can’t refuse.
It’s make or break for Coutinho this season, and if his performance against Leicester City is anything to go by, this season will be the making of him.
by George (@georjecb on Twitter)