Friday, July 20, 2018

Philippe Coutinho: The Rise of the Little Magician

Liverpool's main man - Coutinho

Liverpool’s main man – Coutinho

It’s been long and painful 26 years since Liverpool last won the Premier League.

The excruciating wait has become a huge burden for Liverpool supporters who currently deal with conflicting emotions over their team’s performances and results as the Reds head into the international break top of the Premier League table.

Slippery Slope

Being a Liverpool fan myself I can attest to the unbearable feeling boiling inside.

For the first time since May 2014, Liverpool are once again leading the league. For the second time in just two years’ time, the Reds’ fans cannot afford to keep their hopes too high as – God forbid – the ongoing title charge could following the same path that ultimately led to Liverpool finishing runners-up to Manchester City after the infamous Steven Gerrard slip which gifted Chelsea a decisive win that year.

The familiar pattern’s recurrence is for many a worrying sign as the crescendo of excitement continues to build up around Liverpool’s title challenge, most notably after the memorable 6-1 trouncing of Watford at Anfield at the weekend.

Liverpool are locked at 5/2 betting odds to lift the coveted trophy this year and end the long wait.

Patience, belief and will-power is what Jurgen Klopp is demanding from his team – a set-up of firmly dedicated men, who are beating the odds to the top, led by the incredible Philippe Coutinho.

The Brazilian is enjoying arguably the best season of his life and was once again at his best on Sunday, teeing up Sadio Mane for Liverpool’s opener and then adding one himself. Having either scored or assisted a goal every 75 minutes in 2016-17 season, the Little Magician has become the most effective attacking player in England’s top division.

One Man’s Loss – Another Man’s Gain

From Brazilian favelas, though Italian outskirts and on to the English main stage, the 24-year-old’s journey has, symbolically, been a difficult but a fairly rewarding one.

Described as “the future of Inter”, the Brazilian wonder-man arrived in Italy at the tender age of 18 together with his parents and girlfriend and now wife Aine.

It was a difficult transition for not just the player, but for the entire Coutinho family as well, who were forced to give up on their lives to help their talented son pursue his dreams.

Backed by former Nerazzuri coach Rafa Benitez and former chairman Massimo Moratti, little did Coutinho know that his Serie A move would turn sour in an instant. The talented boy struggled to gain his footing and adapt to his new surroundings as it would be expected from an 18-year-old boy, but it was Inter and their chronic lack of patience, who carry the greatest responsibility for Coutinho’s Italian failure.

The Nerazzuri have been rather quick on the trigger over the last couple of years – changing eight managers in just six years’ time – which Frank De Boer can firmly attest to.

Instead of allowing young players – and managers alike – to grow, mature and succeed at the club, Inter regrettably often choose to follow a different path, punishing their owns for lack of instant results.

Phoenix Rising

Twenty-eight Serie A appearances, three goals and two loan spells later, Coutinho moved to Liverpool, who managed to beat the likes of Southampton to the Brazilian’s signature back in 2013. Inter’s loss quickly became Liverpool’s gain as it became apparent straight from the start that the Reds have a top-class gem at their ranks.

Shy on the pitch and off of it as well, the Brazilian managed 13 Premier League appearances in the second part of the 2012-13 season in England, adding three goals to his name too.

Coutinho’s progression and rise to the top since his early days in Liverpool have been nothing short from impressive, but it wasn’t until his performances under Jurgen Klopp in 2016-17 that Coutinho managed to establish himself as the most influential players in the Premier League.

The German tactician had a big impact on the entire club, fandom and the city of Liverpool in general as the Reds are aiming to go the distance under former Borussia Dortmund manager this season, but his influence of the very style of play has been the highlight point that offers great reassurance when it comes to Reds’ title chances.

Having already outplayed Brendan Rodgers’ almost-there team in every aspect of the game, Jurgen Klopp’s Reds are enjoying an enthralling football with their Little Magician leading the way.

Smiling On

As one of the two survivors of the Rodgers’ 2013-14 Liverpool, Coutinho is enjoying a new, more polished and direct role in Klopp’s 4-3-3 formation. Nominally placed on the right side of the pitch, the Brazilian enjoys great freedom and – more importantly – unreserved trust and confidence from his manager.

Placed inside a fluid front three with Firmino as a false nine and Mane as a wide receiver, Liverpool’s Little Magician has the ability to exert his creativity to its full extent.

Already tracked by Europe’s biggest clubs Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and Real Madrid, Coutinho is likely to be one of the hottest football properties in years to come. Liverpool have issued a hands off warning by slapping a $68 million price tag on their star performer hoping it would be enough to keep the interested parties at bay.

The best way to keep Coutinho at Anfield, however, is to make sure that wide and illuminating smile never get off of his face.



Milos Markovic

Formerly a Chief Editor at the largest sports site in Serbia, Milos Markovic is an avid football writer who contributes to a variety of online football magazines - most prominently and His feature articles, editorials, interviews and match analyses have provided informed opinion and views, helping the football aficionados keep up to date on relevant events in world football.



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