Liverpool fans, myself included, weren’t surprised last summer when Barcelona came knocking on the door and tried to prise Philippe Coutinho away.
This was on the back of a fantastic season in which he ended as Liverpool’s top scorer with 14 goals in all competitions, the best haul of his career to date. Let’s not forget, a midfield shift to the centre also happened towards the end of the season.
It easily passes out of one’s memory especially since the way he operates in the centre, it’s as though he has been doing it his entire career.
Of course, under Brendan Rodgers for most of the 2013-14 season, he played behind the attacking trio of Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez, a role he performed remarkably well.
But inconsistency plagued him more often than we liked, he had little to no influence on games, and that outweighs moments of brilliance.
Barcelona have long targeted the little Brazilian, flirting with him via Neymar ever since he was back in the international fold. It was believed Coutinho’s inconsistency was the reason Barca were reluctant to make a move for him all the while, but after witnessing his exceptional performances in a deeper role, they decided he would be the one to dictate their midfield once Andreas Iniesta retires.
The Catalan giants wanted to pair them together, but their forward had other ideas. From being pursued to be a partner for Neymar, he turned into a target to replace his compatriot. Coutinho rose to the bait.
Liverpool were having none of it and rejected all three bids, one of which worth an extraordinary total of £118m. The Brazilian wizard was dejected. There were fears making him stay against his will would not work out well for him or the club. Those concerns were quelled.
He was like a boomerang. He appeared to move away linearly, only to gradually double back to his point of origin. In other words, he came back and better than ever. There is known to be a direct connection between Coutinho and victories this season.
He relishes being the captain as evident in the 7-0 win against Spartak Moscow where he scored his first ever hat-trick in his career, but sadly that won’t be enough to make him stay.
There’s every chance the game against Leicester could be the last time he pulls on the red shirt. There’s also a good chance he might give us six more months.
We can sign as many young players as we want, but the harsh reality is, as long as we don’t win trophies, we won’t be able to keep them when they’re at their peak, and that’s the whole point of it.
Liverpool need to win something this season. The signing of Virgil Van Dijk signals Klopp’s intent to finish this season with at least one trophy and hopefully Coutinho would stay beyond this season. Perhaps be made permanent captain in place of the increasingly nugatory Jordan Henderson. Every single one of us wants to see Coutinho in the centre with Naby Keita next season.
Leave for Barcelona, and you’ll just be another player in a team built around Lionel Messi. Stay and have a team built around you. You’ll be a legend at Anfield! Make being the top Brazilian scorer in the Premier League just the start. More records are there for you to break them.