If all the reports about the huge bids submitted by Liverpool FC for RB Leipzig’s Naby Keita, rejected by the German club are true, then the Reds are not supposed to feel happy on a German soil. However, despite any frustration that RB Leipzig might have brought to Liverpool’s summer transfer plans, the Reds look to be unconcerned by the media rumors.
Liverpool play against Hertha Berlin in a friendly that would allow Jurgen Klopp to see how his players progress during the pre-season in a game against a strong German side, which finished 6th in the last year’s Bundesliga.
The good news about Reds is that one of their best players in season 2016/2017 – Sadio Mane is set to make his comeback from injury and to play against Hertha. It is interesting how Klopp would play with Mane, Mohamed Salah, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino, all in-form and ready to create havoc in the opposition defences. We will not receive an answer to this question during the pre-season friendlies, as Klopp will probably keep playing with 2 different formations in each half.
However, it is very likely that in the Premier League, Jurgen Klopp will play Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah on the flanks and will rotate them. Roberto Firmino should be playing as false No 9, as he did last season, while Philippe Coutinho will have a more central role as playmaker.
Why Coutinho will stay Red?
There are three very simple and logical reasons for Philippe Coutinho to continue playing for Liverpool FC.
The Reds are progressing towards their goal to win trophies, in the first place. This is probably the most important factor to keep any player at Anfield, especially one like Coutinho, who he has been given an instrumental role for the team’s success.
Another reason for the Little Magician to continue playing at Anflied is that he has looked settled and happy in England. He has a status of a Premier League’s star. Playing for Reds gives him a global influence and has helped him to become an important player for the Brazil national team.
The third reason for Coutinho to keep playing for Liverpool is that Jurgen Klopp has made the Brazilian even more important for the club, than he was under Brendan Rogers. Klopp has decided to move Coutinho in the center, to give him a No 10 position and to make him a playmaker for Liverpool. The No 10 position is usually given to the most gifted and complex player in the squad.
It is a significant recognition and a great responsibility for any player to be assigned the playmaker’s role. The fact that a very experienced, pragmatic manager like Jurgen Klopp has decided that Coutinho is ready to play a central role in his team, means a lot. Coutinho has been given the same role at the Liverpool’s team, that Andres Iniesta used to have in Barca. However, Philippe Coutinho’s status at Liverpool, will be the same like the one Lionel Messi has in Barcelona. Coutinho will be credited with the task to organize the Liverpool’s game, to distribute the ball and to create chances for his team mates. At the same time, he will sit very close to the Reds attacking line and this will allow him to shoot and score goals.
Coutinho on the flank vs No 10’s Coutinho!
Within the last few seasons Philippe Coutinho has played on the left flank of the Liverpool’s attack. He has never been a natural winger and those who know Liverpool’s game, remember that he has struggled a bit to adapt to the left flank. The winger’s position requires a player to contribute a lot in defense and to help the midfielders, and the full-back behind him.
Being assigned a left-winger’s role has always meant that Coutinho was a bit limited in his game – both tactically and in terms of opportunities. Only his brilliantness helped him to adapt, to be successful as a left winger and to create chances, and score goals for Reds.
Jurgen Klopp has seen that Philippe Coutinho has much greater potential and that his drilling and passing skills would take him to the next level, if he plays more central role. So the German manager started playing Coutinho as No 10 and gave him creative freedom.
Therefore, the question “Why Coutinho would go to Barcelona were he would be restricted to a left-winger role?” is a reasonable one. It looks that Neymar is about to leave Barcelona for a very same reason that would make Coutinho to stay at Liverpool. Neymar wants to have more central role both as a player and as a leader of the team, he plays for. In Barca, those are roles are given to Lionel Messi and he would keep them for indefinite period, as long as he plays for the club. Even if Coutinho is promised to play as a central midfielder in Barcelona and to fill for Andres Iniesta, this is still not a good proposal, as unlike Iniesta, Phillippe Coutinho is an attacker.
Finally, it is a rational decision, an easy one for Philippe Coutinho, to give himself at least one of two more year as Liverpool player, in which the Jurgen Klopp led team will try to win the Premier League or the Champions League. It is not going to be easy for the Reds to win a major trophy, as there is a huge competition both at home and in Europe.
Liverpool probably have the most explosive attack in today’s Premier League and even in the European football, which means that they are among the world’s best attacking teams. However, Reds need to improve a lot defensively in order to be stable enough to win titles.
Going back to Philippe Coutinho, I’d say that Barcelona look like a club in decline and the Neymar’s prospective sale will be one of the things which will affect the Catalan team in the negative way. The best years of the current Barca’s ageing team look to be in the past. This would not depreciate Barcelona’s status as one of the greatest football clubs. However, each and every club has its ups and downs. Barca have been in decline few times during the last 3 decades. Now, it looks very likely that the Catalans would go through another period without winning a major trophy.