Liverpool FC have announced the signing of Philippe Coutinho! Finally the average Liverpool supporter’s dream of having a player with the name ending “inho” has become a reality. Much has been made of the Brazilian midfielder with some areas of the press already trying to apply some pressure on the transfer by labelling it a “gamble”. In my opinion at £8.5m I don’t think its much of a gamble. Coutinho has played in the Top European leagues already as well as European competitions and last season at Espanyol he was a regular for them during his loan.
If you were to compare him with Man Utd’s new signing Wilfred Zaha – which one would you go for at the prices being quoted? Zaha has only ever played football in the Championship – and there are a lot of players that never made a successful transition to Premier League football – so the risk or “gamble” is there for that transfer too although nobody in the press has mentioned this as of yet.
Philippe can play in a variety of positions and within the 4-2-3-1 he can fit into any of the positions behind the striker. Mauricio Pochettino, Southampton manager who managed Philippe Coutinho at Espanyol last season, preferred to play him as the left sided attacker but also experimented in the other positions.
We all know who Coutinho is, and that he is a quality player.
For Liverpool it has been Raheem Sterling that has occupied this position the most. It will be interesting to see how their stats compare. There has also been talk of Luis Suarez playing from the left and after looking at some of Luis’ stats from the 2011/12 season there are a few comparisons to the young Brazilian.
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So if Coutinho was to take Sterling’s spot what should we expect? An improvement? Maybe. An improvement in shots attempted, a better crosser as well as more goals than Raheem is able to deliver however the downside is that Raheem has attempted more dribbles, created more chances and keeps the ball better? It’s a tough one but an interesting head-ache to have.
If you look at the stats in comparison to Luis Suarez they are pretty similar from Luis last season. Shooting, goals, passing and creativity are all quite similar. Major differences lie in creativity and dribbling. Coutinho’s chance conversion at Espanyol was 12.5% which was better than Suarez’s 10% last season and is better than Sterling’s current 9% figure. The need for goals may see Philippe come on from the substitutes bench to make a difference in many games in the coming weeks. Here’s hoping he cements a place.
Realistically you’d not expect an immediate impact – he’s 20 years old and just moved to England, having South Americans in Lucas, Coates (if he stays) and Suarez will be a major help for him but can he settle immediately? There used to be a belief that it’s only in the second full season that a foreign player really settles to the Premier League. Going by Luis Suarez’s stats this season this rings true – this is his second FULL season in the Premier. Players like Pires and Ljungberg all fitted this belief. It would be a bonus if Coutinho was to settle immediately and produce some mind-blowing performances but realistically I’d expect flashes of brilliance – ala Luis Suarez – to start with and then if he’s given time by the Liverpool faithful and manager he has the potential to become something very, very special.
We’ll leave you with some Philippe Coutinho stats from his time at Inter and Espanyol. You will see the improvement when he’s played regularly as he did at Espanyol. Hopefully an extended run in the second half of this season will see him get some goals in the famous Red shirt.
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Coutinho Stats taken from WhoScored & ESPNSoccernet. Suarez & Sterling Stats from our Stats Centre.
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