In signing a long-term deal with Liverpool, Philippe Coutinho turned down the chance of a career-changing move to Barcelona. It was the right call to make.
1. Playing time
Philippe Coutinho is arguably the first name on the team-sheet at Liverpool and the forward will continue to have a run of games as long as the 24-year-old is fit to play. Whereas at Barcelona, the Brazilian would have to compete with Neymar on the left, and a certain Leo Messi on the opposite flank. If he was to be used in central midfield, then his direct competitors would be the great Andres Iniesta, Denis Suarez, André Gomes, Ivan Rakitic, and Rafinha. That’s a lot of potential bench time.
2. Jurgen Klopp
The German coach’s arrival to Liverpool has resulted in a clear improvement for Coutinho in the past few months. The Brazilian now scores more often, possesses improved decision-making skills and knows exactly when to shoot or when to pass.
Under Brendan Rodgers, it seemed that Coutinho was unsure whether he wanted to develop as a playmaker or as an attacker. Klopp has positioned his player more on the left, with the possibility of cutting in and taking shots, than in a central role where he’d be required to provide for his teammates.
Yes, gratitude. In an era where players have no signs of loyalty for the clubs that gave them everything, Coutinho has made it clear that his heart belongs to Liverpool. He is not the type of footballer who would sell the fans’ love and faith, just to join a side where he would have an easier life in making money as well as winning cups with less sacrifice. The Brazilian’s career was being wasted out on loan, until the moment Liverpool signed him in January 2013. And now, it’s time to pay that investment back.
4. A harder challenge
Coutinho admitted that Barcelona was interested in signing him, and if his words were to be true, then he would be emulating Diego Maradona’s career path. The Argentinian refused multiple offers from top clubs and decided to join Napoli and lift them to the top. Of course, Coutinho is no Maradona in terms of talent, but he has the right to dream of winning the English league in the future.
5. Being the main man
If Liverpool ever win a Premier League in the near future, Coutinho will most likely be the one who takes credit for guiding the team. He’d have a better chance of winning cups at Barcelona, but he would risk being remembered as the one who “helped the main man”, rather than the protagonist. Whereas at Liverpool, Coutinho is the fans’ number one beloved magician.