Over the weekend Liverpool were dealt a major blow in their bid for a strong start to the season. Coming up against Manchester City was meant to be a close and tight game, but it ended up with City running riot scoring five goals to Liverpool’s none. Despite the Sadio Mane red card argument the major topic after the game, there was still much speculation surrounding Phillippe Coutinho’s future as he was left out of the squad entirely on Saturday by Jurgen Klopp.
Klopp gave the reasoning that it was a purely fitness concern stating that it was an agreement between player and manager. However, having played and scored for Brazil earlier in the week, the reasoning may not brush with everyone in the media.
It was very clear that the former Inter Milan man wanted his move to the Nou Camp and this could be him forcing the issue again. Liverpool were very firm with Barcelona and did not want their star man to leave Anfield this window, but this may have caused a rift between player and club. There are rumours that the playmaker is going to refuse to play for his club on their return to the Champions League to avoid being cup-tied just in case he gets his move to Spain this winter.
He is such an important figure for the Merseyside giants and can create situations out of nothing, but he can lack consistency. However, that is taking nothing away from the dazzling skills, acute passing ability and long-range thumping efforts he can produce (see Liverpool vs Manchester City 1st March 2015). With all this talent and speculation he will become a distraction until he plays again. It would have been a perfect time to have at least put him on the bench against City and give him a few minutes in the end.
Not knowing the full character of Coutinho, he could become a real nuisance at the club, or he could settle straight in again. Wantaway players may be able to patch things up with their teammates, but the foundations have taken a battering, and some of the trust will have deserted. He may come back and get his head down trying to figure out if he can spend another season with Liverpool or he might just happily pick up his pay cheque until January, not putting in the full commitment fans deserve and make sure the move goes through. We do not fully know but what we do know is he will not be as much of a nuisance as Diego Costa at Chelsea!
With 2018 being a World Cup it is vital that he gets game time under his belt. There is no point in him rotting in the reserves all season, and you can see that is probably not going to be the case as Liverpool value you him too much to allow that to happen. But if he does not want to fully injure himself before a big move to Barcelona then he may well do that.
The club have done well to resist the temptation to sell. They have succumbed to that before with the sale of Luis Suarez, Fernando Torres and Xabi Alonso to Barcelona, Chelsea and Real Madrid respectively. Now they must integrate the player back into the squad to stop speculation because until then the papers will still be talking about his “imminent” move to Barcelona.
Liverpool must take that spotlight off him now and just play him. If he does not play their Champions League game, there will be major questions about his future with the club. He is 25 years old and will still need guidance along the way; the club have to support him and offer that guidance to him. Put him on the bench and play him for a few minutes against Sevilla. Fail to do so, and the media circus will continue until January.