He is widely regarded as one of Liverpool’s best players, but here are four reasons why losing Philippe Coutinho isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
We are witnessing yet another prolonged transfer saga at the Anfield. Liverpool is one club that has the history of having at least one or two bright players as shining lights at different points in their history. It used to be Xabi Alonso the midfield marshal at some point. It moved to Stephen Gerrard and his heroics, and got to Fernando Torres at some point. After Torres, came the extremely talented Luis Suarez, followed by Philippe Coutinho.
A look at these players hints that all but one of them left the club in controversial circumstances, and we can understand why that one player did not leave. He is English.
The departure of Xabi Alonso dealt a heavy blow on Liverpool, that of Torres set them back, and the team was almost destroyed when Suarez left. Many people in remembering this history have insisted that releasing Philippe Coutinho, who Barcelona has a huge interest in, will spell similar doom for the club.
Liverpool has struggled in the past weeks to keep him by rejecting up to three different bids from Barcelona. But the truth is, his departure will not be as problematic as being envisaged, and here’s why.
He can’t give 100% if his head is elsewhere
When a player hands in a transfer request from Liverpool, his spirit has actually departed from the club. That is to say that at the moment, Coutinho cannot give 100% because in his mind, he has decided to go. So, emotionally, professionally, socially, and subconsciously, he is no longer in Liverpool.
When a player’s mind is made, keeping him will be against his will. The best displays in football come from deep rooted conviction and commitment, and those cannot be gotten from Coutinho again. His spirit, attitude and demeanor will never remain the same again.
They would be doing away with negativity
Forcing Coutinho to stay against his desire will not bode well for the dressing room. With his skill and position in the club, he is already one of the most influential players in the squad. If he is forced to stay, his influence on the other members of the squad will be negative, just as his attitude will become. This will spell doom for the team.
To avoid allowing negative vibes to permeate the squad, and to ensure that a new vigor and foreseeable progress is instilled and pursued, he should be allowed to go.
The Mane and Salah Factor
The fact is that no player is indispensable. Every player can be replaced in any team. Real Madrid and Barcelona have had a list of ‘A’ list players in the past that people thought were not replaceable. But better alternatives and replacements sprang up in no time.
When Coutinho was on a long injury lay off last season, Sadio Mane who is at the same level with him stood up to the challenge and made even better showings. More appropriately, the arrival of Mohammed Salah makes the club more equipped to enjoy a prosperous post-Coutinho era. Salah has acclimatised so perfectly in the team, having had a brief history of English football at Chelsea.
Coutinho is an attacking midfielder, but Salah is a more natural attacker with even better pace. With Mane, Salah and Firmino all available for selection, along with the backup option of Sturridge, the impact of the Brazilian’s departure will not be much.
No team continues with the same formation forever. In fact, the best teams play to the strength of the players, and here, Liverpool is already discovering an amazing strike partnership between Mane, Firmino and Salah, while Solanke and Sturridge do the work at the flanks.
Salah has already filled in the place of Coutinho. He will definitely do well in it. Even if it means shifting the center of attraction to Mane, while Salah still does his thing quietly, and the results are achieved, it is still better than keeping an indisposed Coutinho. He has the speed that Coutinho does not have, and the desire to impress, with an adequate eye for goal, and perfect close ball control.
The cash will be very useful
The final reason to allow Coutinho to leave the club is the cash. Liverpool are driving a hard bargain by rejecting three Barcelona bids, even to the tune of €130m (£119m). Barcelona banked an astonishing €220m from the sale of Neymar, and Liverpool want large cut of that fee to tempt them into selling.
If Barcelona return with an offer of around €150m, Liverpool could give the Catalans the green light to complete the deal.
Not onlit would Liverpool be able to replace Coutinho, but would be able to fund moves to strengthen other areas of the squad with the proceeds.
There are some other excellent midfielders that could give as much as Coutinho, that the club can buy around €50m. Being a club that has the reputation of picking young talents and developing them, they can still get some talented players with a fraction of the money.
Long term target Virgil Van Dijk could be on his way to Anfield at the right price, and they can also get Jean Michael Seri. In fact, Liverpool will do a lot with the money that Coutinho will give them, much more than Coutinho offers.
Suffice it to say that the only reason why coaches and club boards find it difficult to sell players as good as Coutinho is the fear of the unknown. But in most cases, such decisions, when carefully executed, has proven better than not taking it.
Written by our Guest Writer, Alex Norwood.