Coutinho signed for Liverpool from Inter Milan in January of 2013 for what seemed like a paltry sum of only £8.5m. He sparkled in the second half of the 2012/2013 Premier League season, constantly being Liverpool’s creative outlet with his eye for pass and remarkable chemistry with fellow January arrival, Daniel Sturridge. Many expected him to continue in this vein of form for the 2013/2014 season, and lead Liverpool to the Champions League berth they desired.
However, 22 games into the season, Coutinho has been largely unable to show the kind of creativity that facilitated his initial rise to fame. He’s had an injury break after taking a knock in the game against Swansea, and hasn’t look the same since. Apart from constantly looking tired and bereft of creativity, he’s also begun to be very wasteful with his chances (much to the outrage of many fans). But should Brendan Rodgers and the fans be worried that perhaps their little star has burned out?
Firstly, although he doesn’t seem to be performing at his usually high standards, Coutinho is still very young at only 21 years old, and has plenty of time to recover fully from his injury and become a major pillar for Rodgers to build his Liverpool team around.
Not to mention that Coutinho contributes on the pitch in other ways than simply providing the key pass. After his rise to prominence in the latter half of last season, defenders in the Premier League are now wary of the Brazilian and try harder to mark him out of games. In the match against Aston Villa, the tight defensive unit of Vlaar, Clark, Bacuna, and Bertrand forced him to drop deep in order to receive the ball and try to force the play. This may hamstring Coutinho’s ability to create goals and chances, but it opens up space for any of the other attackers to exploit. Something a certain Luis Suarez has done very well recently.
That being said, Coutinho does seem to be very lethargic compared to his energetic displays before, and I think that a move to his favourite central position might help in facilitating his return to full fitness as it lessens the defensive responsibilities ever so slightly. Some fans are calling for a switch in formation to the 4-3-1-2 to accommodate both Suarez and Sturridge as well as Coutinho in the centre, but I feel that benching Sterling right now is almost impossible based on his magnificent form of late. But alas, that’s a debate for another article.
To finish off, Liverpool fans should not be too flustered about the dip in form of their Brazilian Magician, but it would seem wise for Rodgers to give him a little rest to return to full fitness so that he can come out and dazzle the crowd once again. Thanks for reading!