There may be little arguing that Philippe Coutinho has the skills to be a world class player, and the vision and game intelligence to go with them. Barcelona wouldn’t truly be pursuing him at this level of intensity and doggedness if he weren’t at that level. Some people remain unconvinced. Some people like Robbie Fowler, or God as he’s also known.
Coutinho himself has had a shaky start to the season, with a back injury in the beginning (shortly after his transfer request was denied - funny coincidence) and some kind of knock following the defeat at Spurs. His struggles of coming back on all cylinders after an injury are well known, as well, so maybe Fowler’s criticisms are a little harsh.
Maybe. Considering also that Coutinho has scored five goals in 11 games this season, and has been instrumental in creating many more for other high scoring players - including the goal yesterday against Chelsea.
“If I have a slight disappointment, it is that Liverpool didn’t make the most of their attacking situations, and that’s probably because Philippe Coutinho had an off-day,” Fowler said to the Echo Saturday following the draw against Chelsea.
“You’d love to see him have the consistency that Eden Hazard is showing. Yet it can be tough for players who maintain that level – remember that Hazard had a long spell a couple of seasons ago when he stopped playing at an acceptable level.
“If Coutinho is going to be considered truly world class – at the level of Neymar and Lionel Messi - then he will have to offer a bit more in games like this. But he still had that ability to produce something from nowhere for Mo Salah’s goal.”
The fact is also that Coutinho isn’t a player like Messi or Neymar, simply because their skillsets are different. Neymar is a striker, Coutinho has always been a midfielder. Comparing them because of the Barcelona connection, or the home country connection in the case of Neymar, is unfair. The only foregone conclusion regarding Coutinho is his departure, not his world-class abilities. At 25, he’s still coming into his own as a player, and we should at least enjoy him while we can before he starts to make money for someone else.