Philippe Coutinho has taken to English soccer like a duck to water, having immediately adapted into Liverpool’s playing style. The Brazilian signed for the Reds in January for a reported £8.5m fee and has already shown his worth in a Liverpool shirt as the 2012-13 season draws to a close.
There was a great expectation when Coutinho arrived at Anfield and he has excelled brilliantly since stepping onto the pitch. The attacking midfielder scored on his full début during a 5-0 victory over Swansea, before setting up the sides’ first and second goals in the 4-0 win over Wigan in March.
Coutinho has added an extra dimension to Liverpool’s game since joining, giving them an extra attacking option with an abundance of creativity. His fast, direct play adds flair in the midfield and he can also play as a second striker on the flanks. It’s evident that Coutinho’s arrival has helped create more goals in the side as Liverpool have won by some unusual margins since February. With Coutinho, Liverpool have beaten Swansea 5-0, Wigan 4-0 and Newcastle 6-0. Encouragingly, the Reds have only lost twice in the Premier League with Coutinho in the squad.
Coutinho has been compared to Lionel Messi and Ronaldinho by Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino, who the 20-year-old played for at Espanyol.
Some critics may say that Coutinho has only scored twice since coming to England, but he has five assists to his name already and has created a number of chances for his colleagues, including the sensational through-ball to Daniel Sturridge during the 6-0 win over Newcastle.
There was a sense of expectation on the youthful promise in Jonjo Shelvey, Raheem Sterling, Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson as the transfer failings of the summer gave Brendan Rodgers little choice in attacking players in August. However, at £8.5m, Coutinho looks set to be one of the signings of the season in the Premier League at just 20 years of age. The Brazilian has been showing Liverpool what they have been missing in the first six months of the season. Admittedly, Sturridge has also added a positive dimension to the Reds’ strike force, but Coutinho has been the star of the show so far during the second-half of the campaign.
The short-figured playmaker may not have the most of towering physiques in the Premier League, but he certainly makes up for it in ability and skill as he has fitted into Rodger’s team securely. It will be a tough task to keep hold of Suarez during the summer with all the media speculation surrounding him, but Rodger’s may look to build his side for next year around Liverpool’s new number 10, Philippe Coutinho.