Why Liverpool will flourish without Phil Coutinho

Why Liverpool will flourish without Phil Coutinho

I want to open this piece by pointing out that Phillipe Coutinho was my favourite player at Liverpool. For the last two or three seasons now, Phil has been Liverpool’s best player and has developed into a real, real talent. The fact that I wrote an article about him two weeks ago saying he’s the best player in the league despite him well and truly losing his spot as my favourite LFC player through his own antics, just indicates how highly I rate him.

My second favourite Liverpool player before the summer was Emre Can so believe me, I am taking their departures in this and/or the next transfer window as badly as anyone.

But we need to be practical about it. There’s no point losing our heads, there’s no point acting as if the sky has fallen in. We can’t pretend that we aren’t losing one world class player and one potentially world class player, but we need to do is keep a sense of perspective.

In the summer, Liverpool fans were crying out for a centre-back. Liverpool missed out on Virgil Van Dijk through a combination of their own incompetence and Southampton’s stubborn pride. When the window closed, this was seen as the end of the world, and the end of Liverpool’s season before it had started. Fans couldn’t believe Liverpool hadn’t signed someone else instead.

Skipping ahead four months. Liverpool are well in the scrap for second place, have Van Dijk on their roster, having secured his signing before the January window had even begun, whilst Southampton were made to look foolish for holding onto him, in relegation form with a squad in desperate need of a massive influx of cash and quality.

So the failure to sign Van Dijk ended up being far from being terminal and Liverpool have rectified that error. And no sooner had that occurred but Liverpool fans were angry about the next huge mistake Liverpool were set to make, selling Coutinho for £150m.

Alright, so there’s no getting around the fact that selling in January is less than ideal, that Liverpool will struggle to find a replacement who can play in the Champions League and to be honest, there aren’t many reasons on paper to sanction such a deal. But, that doesn’t mean those reasons don’t exist.

Coutinho is gone. He just is. He has made his position clear that he doesn’t want to play another minute for Liverpool, and the last time he did that, his toxic influence could have cost Liverpool dearly. If Klopp (and it sounds like this is coming from Klopp) wants him out, then I can’t blame him. Give Phil’s replacements six extra months to integrate with the squad and get rid of the player who so desperately doesn’t want to be there.

Again, that’s not to suggest the immediate downsides won’t be problematic, specifically with regards to the Champions League, but Klopp (especially under FSG) has never been one to look at the short term ahead of the medium/long term.

But Liverpool look well set to finish in the top four again this season. They have the underpinnings of an excellent squad, with the certainty of even more quality being added in the summer. Looking at the current squad, we have an exceptional front three, even without Coutinho in it. Mane was for many our player of the season last year, Bobby makes everything tick and is adding goals to his game now too, and there are not enough superlatives in the world to describe Mo Salah.

Defensively, there’s no denying that adding Van Dijk is only the first step, but what a first step it is. If selling Coutinho costs us something dear in attack (which it probably will, dependent on who replaces him), then Van Dijk absolutely adds something special in terms of what he brings to the most worrying area of our team, our defence.

Emre Can in midfield is still giving his all and looking very, very impressive. We finally have two sets of competent full-backs, and with the likes of Oxlade-Chamberlain finding some form and Adam Lallana hopefully back to fitness and form soon, this all indicates that there is a level of quality to Liverpool’s overall squad which means that we are absolutely going in the right direction with or without Coutinho, and don’t necessarily need him to hit our target goals for the season.

Which leads me back to the issue of recruitment. Liverpool will soon have £150m burning a hole in their back pocket. On top of that, they will start next season with Naby Keita, arguably the most talented young central midfielder in Europe, at their disposal, who will bring to the table a lot of what Can and Coutinho have both brought. If he’s not a direct replacement for either, he’s a damn good fit.

Liverpool shouldn’t be looking for a direct replacement for Coutinho because they simply won’t find one. There isn’t a player as good at everything as Phil is. What they need to do is use the money to reinvest in building a multi-faceted and talented side, and that looks to be what they’re doing. Buying a talented attacking midfielder is on the list, and that looks to be happening in some form, but so is buying a partner for Keita in midfield, a partner for Van Dijk, and a replacement for Mignolet.

Based on the players Liverpool have been linked within this window, I’d be staggered if at least one very good attacking player to vaguely fill the Coutinho shaped hole wasn’t brought in immediately, with potentially one more in the summer. In terms of central midfield and defence, that looks to be two more spots that will be filled in the summer, and the goalkeeper is anyone’s guess.

Basically, if Coutinho leaves this window, then he will be replaced in some form. We will replace Emre Can in the summer. We will continue to build upon the strong base of what is now five genuine title-winning players – Salah, Mane, Firmino, Keita, Van Dijk – with good quality and good potential around them.

And if Coutinho doesn’t want to be a part of that then fine. We don’t need him anyway. Liverpool are building something special. This all goes back to what I said at the start about Van Dijk. Liverpool made a plan, they executed the plan. Yes, there were some hiccups along the way, but Liverpool have now secured the services of Mo Salah, Virgil Van Dijk and Naby Keita over the course of six months. That is an elite level forward, an elite level midfielder and an elite level centre-back. Klopp knew Phil was off, and the moment has been prepared for.

If you don’t trust Klopp and FSG are building something special, and if you’re still a doubter and not a believer after everything that has happened since the end of last season, then fine. That’s your choice. But just remember, Liverpool spent less than £150m on Keita, Mane, Salah and Firmino. Imagine what we’re going to do with the Phil money.

Happy 2018 everyone.

Looking for the best audio content on the Coutinho departure and arrival of Virgil van Dijk? Listen to Paul Dalglish, Jan Molby and the journalists that broke the stories as well as fan media reaction to all of the big stories in January!

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Comments

10 responses to “Why Liverpool will flourish without Phil Coutinho”

  1. Artemis says:

    Lovely article and beautiful sentiments. Fans all over have been claiming Liverpool should have just held on and forced Coutinho to stay without taking into account the kind of toxic environment it would have been creating for others in the dressing room constantly seeing Coutinho detached and moping around about staying at the club.
    Klopp is building something here with players that actually want to play for Liverpool. Keita chose Liverpool, so did Ox, and Van Djik practically turned down a PL, and potential League Cup winners medal to join us. Lemar preferred us to Arsenal in the summer, and we’re very much in the running for Goretzka. Shame that Phil couldn’t see what we were building here, but it’s not sad to see him go after the way he’s acted.
    I also agree that searching for a player to replace Coutinho would be foolish and almost impossible. Instead we find someone that can fit the system, has the creative spark to drive us forward, and the vision to unlock defences.

    Personally, I’d also love to see Woodburn get more chances, after all Coutinho was not much older when he joined us, and was the same age when he was on loan at Espanyol. What better than to see young Ben with all the passion in the world for this club (I’ll never forget the look in his eyes after he scored on debut), replace one that had lost all of his.

  2. NYANDA SERENGUJI says:

    thats fine but let FSG AND KLOPP dream for tittle rather doing business bt good times are coming for lfc fans

  3. Bojan says:

    I 1000% agree. Everybody forgetting Ben Woodburn. Play him in first team. If not this season, he must be first team regular from next season.

  4. David456 says:

    Lovely fantasy fluff piece… designed to calm fan anger rather than provide any meaningful insight.
    Totally ignores the fact FSG are just as likely to sell off our other forwards when bids come in and players demand a move… their history proves it.
    How anyone thinks we’ll improve by selling off our best players on a regular basis is mind boggling. Other top clubs don’t follow that pattern, they keep their best players and build on them. Thats why they win titles and we don’t… but lets not dwell on that minor detail. Today is all about damage control and spin, spin, spin.

  5. devan mehta says:

    Well written article. Didnt make sense keeping Couts much longer. Playing along Messi meant more to him than The Reds. We have 5 out of 11 players to win the title next season and more to come in the summer. In Klopp we trust.

  6. yahyyah atchia says:

    Liverpool is as big as Barcelona many people should understand,especially foreign sports reporters.we aren’t any sort of poultry ,that’s whenever you want you come you bet you serve.we aren’t any sort of that.Many players act as hypocrite,they come here,get formation,become stars and when a f….k club knock at the door they suddenly want to see elsewhere .In a sense it’s legitimate,but the question is dont you think there is a problem with Liverpool ,in two years time it will make almost three decades we haven’t the league and even though we won fa cup ,league cup ,UEFA ,champion league etc we are not attractive enough to hold on onto our star players.And with some players making stupid mistakes and still given longterm contract then imagine next.Fsg should change policy i think they should create a barrier thatwould prevent star player under contract not to leave the club at least a minimum of seven years and that we should maximize the investment therein.he is gone that’s a pity for him he took us for granted,but thanks anyway for the good moments and good luck.liverpool fc will always be here and alive.let’s be more shrewd now on.

  7. Chan says:

    I had said before that keeping Phil is just not about the sporting side of things, the money or his influence in the dressing room although i aggree it can be bad.
    Its about LFC sending a message to the world and a f**k club like Barca that LFC is a big club in our own right, we have ambitions and we do not sell our best at any cost. Barca did not budge with Neymar until they legally have no choice until his release clause was triggered, basically they keep their best players and that is why this f**k ub also happens to win things.
    With the latest cave in by FSG and Klopp, what sort of message would it sent to Salah or Bobby or our potential targets? What if that same Catalan f**k club comes back for Salah with their bags of dirty tricks ? Would FSG and Klopp cave in too with their ready made lame excuses?
    Although i applaud them for finally getting the DvD deal over the line this time without the usual cock ups expected from the LFC management, selling Coutinho now instead of the summer or even at all is a bad move, FSG and Klopp had totally missed the big picture and got turned by the 142mill.
    Now the whole world plus that Catalan f**k knows the formula on how to get our best players and not for the first time. Remember Suarez?
    FSG and Klopp never seems to learn.

  8. Chan says:

    Oh yeah, now i know what being a Catalan is all about. Nothing more than a bunch of dirty jack asseses and a disgrace to humankind. Serves them right that they loses their govt.

  9. RedRedRed says:

    Great article. It’s nice to get an encouraging boost amidst all the negativity from the ever negative Liverpool supporting crowd. Thanks for helping me see the light

  10. AK says:

    Firstly 75+55+35=165! Secondly half of the Coutinho money has already been spent on VVD! as much as a agree that selling Coutinho now was the the right thing to do if that’s what Klopp decided lets not kid ourselves FSG`s do not spend a huge amount on players our net spend since Klopp speaks volumes.

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Published by Anfield Index
Updated: 2018-01-07 10:14:33
6,406 Views