With another year of Premier League football in the books, the title for bargain of the season likely remain's with Swansea and second striker Michu's £2M transfer from Rayo Vallecano last summer. The bargain of January, though—at the very least in England, and perhaps in all of major European football—belongs to Liverpool.
Registering three goals and five assists along with a series of impressive attacking performances and an unexpected willingness to track back, Philippe Coutinho has proven in only twelve starts and thirteen total appearances that his £8.5M transfer from Inter Milan was a laughably generous sale price for the 20-year-old Brazilian.
For manager Brendan Rodgers, though, the signing of Coutinho didn't seem such an obvious steal when the club was making it. Liverpool knew they were getting a good player; a hugely promising player. What they didn't expect was that he would be quite as good as he has been right out of the gate.
"When you bring somebody in during January you hope they can make an impact," said Rodgers. "You are also looking at it as a six-month adaptation period before you get the best out of them from pre-season onwards.
"We are all pleasantly pleased and surprised by how well he has done. His numbers tell you the story in terms of goals and assists. At the minute, you can't ask any more. The key thing is that he works his socks off as well. He is a real team player."
He has also shown signs of being able to stand up to the at times rough style of the Premier League despite his small stature, a concern of many who speculated that Inter's willingness to sell him might have been rooted in a belief he was too lightweight to make it at the highest levels.
"The best players very rarely get tackled because they are so bright and clever," added Rodgers. "You can see he can use his body if needs be, but he has to become adapted to the physical game here as the Premier League is very physical.
"He's been a real find for us in terms of the price we paid. Hopefully his value will be much greater than the cost in the coming years."
He may not be the finished product quite yet, but it seems fair to say his value has already far exceeded the price Liverpool paid to steal him away from Italy.
Video by LFCindex