According to The Telegraph, it looks like manager Brendan Rodgers and owner John W. Henry may give Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho a new long term contract. The deal comes at a good time for the 22-year-old, as he is coming off a stellar second season at Anfield.
Before coming to Liverpool from Inter Milan in 2012, Coutinho was a player who never fulfilled his potential. He just could not hold down a place in the starting lineup. But now he could be one of the most important players for a club that is looking for its first league title since 1990.
Coutinho’s importance to Liverpool will be highlighted right at the beginning of the new season. as the team adjusts without the creative presence of Luis Suarez. There will also be some growing pains from the new signings, as they find their way in the squad. The injury to Adam Lallana also places a heavier burden on Coutinho to continue building on the success of last season.
Last season, Coutinho made 33 total appearances for Liverpool, the seventh most for the team. Similar to fellow youngster Raheem Sterling, Coutinho played a variety of positions since Rodgers changed his formations often. According to whoscored.com, the Brazilian midfielder played in the number 10 role eight times, was part of a three man midfield eight times, and played out wide on the left seven times. His versatility is a huge boost to his manager, because he is able to succeed no matter where he is positioned.
One of the great reasons why giving him a long term contract would be beneficial for everyone, is that it ensures that he learns not only from his manager, but also from one of the best midfielders in the world in Steven Gerrard, who has committed himself to Liverpool after retiring from international play after the World Cup.
Coutinho is a perfect fit for Liverpool, because he adds a different, more adventurous playing style to a midfield that features players who are typically workhorses and lack creativity. In Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen, Rodgers has two players who cover a lot of ground and are willing to do the dirty work, but are not able to unlock a defense with one through ball.
The Brazilian’s constant movement and vision are key for Liverpool to be able to match the 101 goal haul the team had last season. He also showed that he is not afraid of stepping up to the moment, as shown in his crucial game winner against Manchester City. Even though he is not a poacher by any means, he could and should be able to beat the five goal tally he had last season. Per whoscored.com’s rating system, explained here, Coutinho was the fifth best player on Liverpool last season.