SINCE the weekend, Liverpool FC have been widely associated with a transfer for Inter Milan’s young star Philipe Coutinho. This was seen as an exciting move by many, a signal of intent on the part of manager Brendan Rodgers.
Described by Spanish and Italian football journalist, Mina Rzouki as ‘a Ferrari’, the 20-year old Brazilian is a young talent with great prospects.
She further goes on to wax lyrical about Coutinho, ‘he is a phenomenon…when he’s dribbling with the ball at his feet, you just can’t catch up to him’.
While a Ferrari is something I’m sure many of us would desire, it is often best to go with something reliable, experienced and able to offer us a bit more consistency. And this is why I have a couple of issues with the thought of signing this youngster.
For one, we’ve recently signed Daniel Sturridge. We already have Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling and Suso. Further down into the reserves and youth we have Dani Pacheco, Jerome Sinclair, Joao Carlos Teixeira and Jordan Ibe – these are all player with ability on the ball, able to take on opponents and with an eye for goal.
These may all be at varying levels of development at this club, but they wouldn’t be at the club if they were not believed to have the ability to do something special. Throw in the club’s long-time pursuit of Tom Ince (who many believe will still sign before transfer-deadline day) and you really do have to ask – why do we need another of this type of player?
Many might question me on this and try to argue that Philipe Coutinho is more experienced than the likes of Ibe, Sinclair, and even Suso and Pacheco, but this simply raises my second issue: he is still only 20 and has played barely 40 games for Inter over the past 2 ½ seasons at the San Siro.
While his dribbling ability and his well-documented futsal background may well seem attractive to many a Red, he doesn’t strike me as the kind of player that can make an immediate difference. I believe this even more so given the complete change in culture and language barrier he would undoubtedly face on arrival at the club.
This has been pointed out by many but back on the 1st July 2000, we signed the 35 year old Gary McAllister. A decision questioned by many (probably, myself included but I can’t quite remember!) which worked out pretty well for all parties, I’m sure we can all agree. Although I am not suggesting signing an old Scottish international, I am saying that what we need right now more than anything is some added experience to the squad.
We’re utterly blessed with young, talented attacking players, not to mention the likes of Robinson, Wisdom, Allen and Kelly in other areas of the squad but a player with a proven track-record of quality is needed to add real depth to the squad. The sort of player I have in mind is along the lines of two we let go in the summer, Maxi and Kuyt, but while I won’t start banging that drum again, it really is something that we still need to address.
If the one-capped Brazil international does become our next signing, then I will welcome him and his undoubted talent with open arms and I’ll look forward to seeing him in a Red shirt.
However given that we are supposedly working within a pretty tight budget, I would much rather see some of this spent on an experienced pro that can come from the bench and use his nous to open up a 10-man defence or give the team that little bit extra when it isn’t quite performing to our lofty expectations.
And for a side with an average age normally below 25, I think that that should be our top priority during this January window.