Goal.com analyses the various tactics Brendan Rodgers can apply to use Coutinho's potential to the fullest
With yet another eventful January transfer window reaching its conclusion, clubs in Europe can start making plans on how to utilise their new acquisitions into their different systems. Liverpool have been one of the active clubs in Europe after suffering from a lack of depth in the first half of the season. They have been a busy lot and signed Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea and Phillipe Coutinho from Inter Milan.
Goal.com analyses how exactly the latter fits into the possession based football Brendan Rodgers has introduced into the team.
Coutinho, a 20-year old Brazilian attacking midfielder, who is capable of operating through the middle or either wings, is not only a good passer of the ball but is also competent enough to dribble past defenders. His ability to pass and move the ball in short distances has been on show during his stint at Internazionale FC where then manager Rafa Benitez described him as “the future of Inter”.
An exceptional talent, Coutinho often had to face comparisons with Brazilian counterpart Kaka because of the similarities between the two. Although still far from reaching Kaka’s level, Coutinho is certainly a player with potential. His pace on the ball is coupled with his ability to read the game well, which is always of help in a country like Italy where football is so tactical.
Coutinho put up a stellar performance against Juventus in the Trofeo TIM Cup at the start of the season. He was also instrumental in Inter's remarkable comeback against Bayern Munich during the knockout stages in the 2010-11 edition of the Champions League.
But his stock has plummeted since the departure of Rafael Benitez as it has been observed that the Brazilian has not started two games consecutively after that.
As far as Liverpool are concerned, with current gaffer Brendan Rodgers trying to implement the possession football mentality, Coutinho could prove to be a massive signing. His 'pass-and-move' game fits Rodgers style of play, along with his adaptability on either sides of the pitch, which is an added advantage. His ability from dead ball situations has also been well documented since he curled the ball into the net in a 3-1 win over Fiorentina in May 2011.
Using his play making abilities where he comes deep to spray passes high and wide, Rodgers could free Suarez, who could then roam higher up the pitch, where he is at his devastating best.
Hence, his signing could definitely help add that much required depth in Liverpool’s attack there, by taking the load off Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard, as the two mainstays in the team.
|Coutinho was termed "the future of Inter" by former boss Rafael Benitez|
Not only this, but he could also give Rodgers some unpredictability in his tactics. He can certainly fill in the hole behind the striker, thereby allowing Liverpool to experiment with the much more attacking 4-2-3-1 with Downing and Sterling playing on the wings. In Rodger's preferred 4-3-3 formation, the Brazilian could be deployed as a wide forward on either flanks as he has the ability to cut inside and help create a chance on goal.
With the Brazilian admitting that he was a bit like his former Inter teammate Wesley Sneijder, Liverpool can count themselves lucky having acquired a cheaper alternative to the Dutchman as they were linked with a January move.
Coutinho’s ability to strike long range shots at goal would also be of good use if he plays in the hole in such a system. Not only this but Coutinho’s well timed runs to exploit the gaps in between defenses is also well proven during his time at Inter, which puts him in the mould of a certain Juan Mata who also manages to find pockets of space among defenses.
In short, though at a tender age currently, Coutinho has shown lots of promise, which under careful honing by someone like Rodgers will only improve. He has shown that he has all it takes to be a footballer in a top team. The only thing that remains to be seen for now is that whether he can adapt to his new surroundings by taking inspiration from his fellow countryman and Liverpool teammate Lucas Leiva.
Coutinho's arrival in England will see him pit his wits against fellow Brazilians like David Luiz, Oscar, Anderson, Sandro, and Ramires. However he will look to make his own mark on a Liverpool side which is in transition as they attempt to bring back the glory days to Anfield.