One of 2011's more unexpected signings was Uruguayan central defender Sebastian Coates, who was fresh off earning Young Player of the Tournament honors at Copa America and mostly unknown to those who hadn't paid much attention to Uruguay's title run last summer. Talk of a pipeline with Uruguay--forged by Damien Comolli and his transatlantic windowless submarine--had begun to form with the success of Luis Suarez, and while the Coates signing wasn't something many saw coming, it indicated that the club might be willing to stretch beyond Great Britain in search of younger talent.
He made his debut in non-ideal circumstances, coming on in the first half against Spurs for an injured Daniel Agger, only for Charlie Adam to be sent off a minute later and Martin Skrtel walking in the second half. As he grew into the season his quality was apparent, and despite what seemed like the reliable catastrophic screw-up in each appearance, it was clear that he should have at least been in the conversation for third-choice duty ahead of the quickly fading Jamie Carragher.
Which made it all the more confusing when Carragher continued to get matches despite his struggles, and talk of a loan spell followed for a player that, by all accounts, could impact the club now. Maybe more playing time would have been on tap, but Kenny Dalglish very well could have offered him that at Liverpool last season, and his failure to do so was one of the more confounding decisions the former manager made.
It might be a little unfair to directly compare the opportunities afforded to Coates under Rodgers versus under Dalglish--the new manager has the Europa League in addition to the domestic cups--but we've at least been able to see the young defender more consistently, and in the instance of the Manchester City match, handed an opportunity that he never would have received last season.
And so for a player who's one of the least visible in the squad, it's nice to hear his thoughts on how things have gone--he discussed his hopes for getting another crack after the own goal against Udinese, his comfort with the style of play under the new manager, and what he expects from the rest of the season with the offal, and ahead of tonight's match with Anzhi, I'd guess there's a fair few who are hopeful he'll be in the eleven.
He's still not first-choice, and with Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger re-upping for the long-term he's going to have to fight to break through. But as I mentioned last week, I don't think it's that far off if he continues to develop, and under a manager that values confidence and composure on the ball, it's not a stretch to say that Sebastian Coates' future under Brendan Rodgers could be very promising.