Even as the depressing Philippe Coutinho transfer saga rumbles on, Liverpool fans had some good news on Tuesday. First, multiple news websites in the UK came up with articles of how Coutinho would like “clear-the-air” talks with Klopp and the club to get back in their good books after a fortnight of playing truant. According to The Independent, people close to the Brazilian star are now blaming Barcelona for manipulating him, using his family members to provide additional pressure and to send that ill-conceived transfer request via email.
Second, in the pre-match conference for the home game against Hoffenheim, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp reaffirmed that nothing has changed between him and his talisman and that the Brazilian will be welcomed back after he recovers from his “illness”. Now, the change from the “back injury” to this “illness” might still cause some jitters among the fans, but it is possible that it is just Klopp’s English vocabulary that might be at play.
Optimistic Liverpool fans also found some hope from the new Standard Chartered advertisement that was launched yesterday because it featured Coutinho. Now it is completely possible that the advert was shot much earlier before Coutinho started acting up but the hope is a funny thing, and with Liverpool fans, it is permanent.
In this case, however, the hope is well justified. Without Coutinho, Liverpool has so far coped pretty well and are through to the group stages of the Champions League.
But, there are already signs in the middle of the park that the Reds need Coutinho to come back and breathe some life into the team.
Like Liverpool found out on Saturday against Crystal Palace, it’s hard to break down teams who set out to defend from the onset, that’s where Coutinho’s skillset is required.
Firstly, he has the creativity to unlock a tightly packed defence with his nimble footwork. He’s also quite competent when it comes to picking a pass.
Last season he averaged almost 5.1 successful through balls per game and 2.1 key passes per game. In the match against Crystal Palace, Liverpool did not have a single successful through a pass.
Secondly, he can shoot very well from outside the box and not just from dead-ball situations but also in live play. Last season, on an average he put in 2 shots from outside the penalty box and 1.3 from inside. When the opponent’s defence is packed inside the box, shooting from a distance might be one of the better ways to score. Only a few players are better in the Premier League in this aspect than the Brazilian.
These are the reasons why I think that Liverpool’s hierarchy, as well as the fans, should put the bad blood generated by his transfer request behind them and look forward to another magical season with their Brazilian magician.