Philippe Coutinho is able to deliver from all attacking positions for Liverpool. But Jurgen Klopp faces a decision on where to finally position the Brazilian
Philippe Coutinho is the name of Liverpool’s shining star this season, and every season.
The Brazilian left everyone speechless following his masterclass against West Ham in the English league, last weekend. From a central position, Coutinho dominated the game for the largest parts. Consequently, everyone is wondering what role he is best suited at – in central midfield or as a wide playmaker?
Liverpool are fighting for a valuable spot in Europe’s elite competition, the UEFA Champions League. With one game to go, the Reds are set to host Middlesbrough at Anfield, this Sunday. Ahead of the biggest match of their season, all eyes will be on Coutinho who is living his best moments ever on a football pitch.
With 16 goals and 10 assists across all competitions, the Vasco product had never been as efficient. One could wonder why a player with such high end product doesn’t always play as close as possible to the penalty box, but last week’s evidence, if anything, has suggested that Coutinho can be just as clinical in a deeper role.
As a matter of fact, the 24-year old’s long-range through ball to release Daniel Sturridge for the opener, was reminiscent of his assists to Luis Suarez during the older times in 2013 and 2014. Coutinho reminded us just how good his passing can be, when he has more time on the ball and when he is asked to orchestrate play rather than be the goal-scorer.
And honestly, Coutinho was asked to be both for a long time that, at some stage, he found himself lost, without identity, and failing to decide what he wants to be. The conclusion is simple, you cannot ask for Coutinho to be the play-maker and the one who leads the front line at the same time. He is better off concentrating on one of the two functions, but it is Liverpool’s lack of depth in the wingers’ department that has led to this.
However, everything suggests that a left-winger is coming to the English club in the summer transfer window and that Jurgen Klopp has finally seen the light. The German tactician has admitted to the press that he is willing to play the Brazilian in a midfield role, and if reports in England were to be true, this step could last for longer, throughout next season.
A pacy winger would add another dimension to Liverpool’s game and offer more solutions. Besides the fact that Coutinho is more comfortable in playing in centrally when he has a mobile front three ahead of him, constantly making long runs to receive his through balls – putting his vision into effective use.
Brazil coach Tite has always suggested that the reason he uses the former Internazionale man in a wide position, is because he wants him to operate in the same function as club level. If Philippe plays more often as midfielder, then Adenor Bacchi will eventually have to stick to his words and use him in a deeper role.
And it seems this is more likely to happen than not, especially as this step would make a lot of sense. In the end, Brazil is rich in wingers, having Willian, Douglas Costa, Felipe Anderson and Lucas Moura all at the manager’s disposal. The real problem lies with creativity in central midfield.
Coutinho possesses the talent to operate in midfield or as a wide play-maker, as the Brazilian has constantly displayed with his brilliant performances. But in a deeper role, he would have more time on the ball to put his creativity into good use – while still having the freedom to drive the ball forward with his sensational close control. Both Liverpool and Brazil’s national team are better off with him in the center for all these reasons.