Philippe Coutinho’s move to Liverpool seems to be imminent and, despite his flop-flopping over the past ten days, he should be on Merseyside before the transfer window shuts.
So what would he bring with him from Italy?
Attribute wise: technique, creativity, guile, ability to beat a man, set-piece quality, and a decent goal-threat from outside the box. Coutinho’s is not, by any means, a finished product, but Liverpool would be getting someone who has the talent-level to grow into a very good player.
In a more general sense, Brendan Rodgers was probably attracted to the Brazilian because of his ability to play a range of attacking positions: Coutinho is comfortable in advanced midfield, in a free-role, but also in the wide forward positions which Rodgers favours in his system.
Here are some options, and they’re purely for the use of demonstrating the range of opportunity rather than making an outright prediction on how the player will be used:
….as an outright attacking midfielder, given license to roam the opponent’s front third and use his creativity. This set-up could also be adjusted to include for a single forward, with Coutinho dovetailing behind.
…in a wider role. Although not an outright winger in the traditional sense, Coutinho’s guile in those advanced areas would be useful. Additionally, against an opponent with a lot of midfield strength, putting him high and wide would allow a more conservative option to be brought into the middle.
…at the head of a midfield three, and providing the natural conduit between that part of the team and the forward players.
If the deal goes through, then you can really start to see Brendan Rodgers’ vision for what he wants during his time at Liverpool. A young squad – anchored by experience and developed talent – growing and maturing together. There’s also a growing fluidity about this team, with a couple of multi-positional players who can play a variety of roles. That’s very valuable in this league, both because of the need to rotate a starting team and to give an opponent a variety of threats and situations to be concerned with.
Get this wrapped-up, and there will be an undeniable sense of progress at the club – and for a reported £8m, this would be very good business indeed. He hasn’t played a lot of football this season, so some patience might be needed, but he’s an astute addition all the same.