Why Liverpool Would Be Insane to Bring the Brazilian Back to Anfie
Philippe Coutinho does not deserve another chance at Liverpool.
His attitude isn’t good enough, his form isn’t good enough, he isn’t good enough. Losing the Brazilian from the side turned out to be the best possible scenario for Jurgen Klopp and the German risks tarnishing the Reds’ reputation if he allows the playmaker to crawl back to Anfield.
What does it say about the Merseysiders if they are indeed proposing a two-year loan deal to bring him in from Barcelona? What does it say if they jump at the very first opportunity to reunite with someone that cast them aside so nonchalantly a mere 18 months ago?
It’s certainly not a positive message. Signing Coutinho implies that he is greater than the club, that they must wait on his beck and call, that they must pander to him. If the Brazilian simply waltzes back into the team, he holds the power.
Moreover, just having him in the squad causes issues of its own. The Blaugrana man would command rather steep wages should he return to Liverpool, a problem which often sees board members pressuring the coach to select the player.
So, Klopp either feels the wrath of his superiors and keeps his free-flowing lineup as it is, or he ousts someone from it. The first issue with the latter is the question of who goes.
The established attacking trident of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are evidently staying up top, making it a choice of Fabinho, Gini Wijnaldum or Jordan Henderson as the one to miss out from a midfield trio.
The skipper provides energy and impetus to the midfield, whilst the Dutchman is unplayable when on form (which is often) and the reputation of the ex-Monaco star continues to rise as he puts in solid shift after solid shift.
Coutinho is not a like-for-like replacement for any in that trio. In fact, he would struggle to do any of the best work each player puts in for the team, all of which is essential for Klopp’s preferred style of play.
The £142m South American is clearly not needed, nor is he suited to the current brand of football that Liverpool produce. Unless the Reds are getting him completely free, it’s a foolish investment.
Of course, this could be looked at through the same lens Manchester City used when purchasing Riyad Mahrez for £60m. No, he isn’t necessary and yes, the requisite fee is hugely inflated, but having such quality adds remarkable depth to the squad.
However, landing Coutinho is not the same as bringing in the mercurial Algerian. Mahrez fits the bill and can do what precisely what Pep Guardiola requires, he just so happens to do it in the Spaniard’s second-string XI.
His counterpart, as we have already discussed, cannot do what Klopp needs; he has neither the stamina nor desire to hound opponents and keep the team defending as one fluid unit. So, it doesn’t matter if he’s only playing in the cups, he would still be a luxury in a side that gains success through cohesion and unity.
Additionally, Xherdan Shaqiri already fills the role of backup playmaker – with several youngsters also able to do so – and has adjusted to the demands of his coach. Why would you pay through the nose for Coutinho, who is a more expensive version of the Swiss with an even trickier attitude to handle?
It was that prickly personality that saw him force a move to Camp Nou in the first place, and since his departure things have looked rather rosy in the north-west.
Surely, new recruits are signed to improve the team’s fortunes; why would you bring the 27-year-old back when you were worse with him around? It’s just illogical.
When Coutinho was on Merseyside, Klopp’s cohort were challenging for Champions League qualification. Fast forward a year-and-a-half and they have placed the trophy in their silverware cabinet, right next to their five other European Cups.
Sure, the £75m purchase of Virgil van Dijk – amongst other astute acquisitions – helped with finding consistent form and propelled Liverpool to the top of the sport, though it was also the immense performances of Mane and Salah that took them there.
Coutinho was a constraint on their freedom and getting rid allowed Klopp to tinker with his formations and, ultimately, uncover a winning formula, which has no place for the former Inter midfielder.
He is not worthy of forgiveness and a warm welcome home. He has shown during his time with La Blaugrana that he is the issue and not the fanbase, making himself public enemy number one with a series of inflammatory remarks and gestures.
This petulant footballer turned his back on Liverpool. Now, they should turn their back on him to show how far they’ve come.