LIVERPOOL FC secured the services of Brazilian youngster Coutinho from Inter Milan for £8.5million just before the conclusion of the January transfer window; however, Reds fans are yet to see the 20 year old in action after Brendan Rodgers allowed the midfielder time to get used to the whirlwind effect a cross-continent transfer can provide.
Coutinho, who comes with big expectations despite losing his way at Inter, is now available to be selected to play for Rodgers, and our Monday night game at Anfield against West Bromwich Albion affords the Brazilian his first opportunity to taste Premier League action, should he be chosen to perform.
If selected, questions have to be asked about where Coutinho will play. He has arrived with a reputation of being somewhat of a ‘number 10’ but can also put in a shift on the wing as he is fortunate to be blessed with natural pace and impeccable vision.
For me, due to the recent improvement in form of Jordan Henderson and the resurgence of Steven Gerrard, Coutinho will struggle to claim the ‘number 10’ role from the off. However, with Raheem Sterling and Stewart Downing both struggling for form and Oussama Assaidi evidently out of favour, the Brazilian could be given an opportunity to shine out wide and if he can couple his pace with some creativity then he will become instantly endeared by the Anfield faithful.
His size and stature allows him to perfectly fit into either the ‘number 10’ role or on the wing as his low centre of gravity and direct approach can become a major problem for opposition defences. Rodgers would be foolish to deploy Coutinho in a deeper central midfield role as, with a distinct lack of height and strength, our new number 10 would struggle to adapt to the physical side of the English style of play.
One thing that is essential in Coutinho’s development at the club is the patience of the fans. There will be times in the next twelve months where we have to watch the Brazilian through gritted teeth as the frustration that comes with his style of play will be there for all to see. However, I strongly believe that if he is given the necessary time to prove himself he will turn out to be a true bargain at just £8.5 million.