You don’t have to dig too deep to find people willing to say nice things about Philippe Coutinho.
Next up in the queue: former Liverpool midfielder Craig Johnston. The former Red, who plied his trade at Anfield through the 1980s before abruptly retiring at the age of 27, has hailed our playmaking wunderkind for his footballing ability and his bonhomie.
“Philippe Coutinho is an absolute jewel in the crown. Not only does he have the clever bits, the genius, but he has the running mentality - he keeps running and keeps running. He's the best of both worlds. This boy is so nice off the field as well, I met him in America when Brazil were playing. He's just perfection, there's nothing wrong with any of his make-up. He's as good as it gets in a football package [because of] his mentality as well.”
None of what Johnston is saying is a surprise, of course. Coutinho has made himself an indispensable member of the squad. His goalscoring prowess, and his ability to create chances out of thin air, was a key component in the recipe of Liverpool’s Top 4 finish in 2016-17. Our opportunity for European football this season is due in large part to him.
But receiving kudos from former Liverpool players is always a special honor. And Johnston— who won five First Division titles and an FA Cup with the Reds in the 80s— is no exception. The Australian, who was forced to leave the game at a young age to attend to a family tragedy and played his last game as a substitute in that fateful 1988 FA Cup Final against Wimbledon, sees Coutinho as a critical member of a squad that’s coming off a tremendous league campaign.
“I thought it was a really good season for us. [More] goals than last year, fewer goals conceded, more games won, fewer games lost, more points than the season before. Jürgen Klopp took a couple of seasons at Dortmund, they finished fifth and sixth, and then they obviously won the league a couple of times after that.”
The veterans are seeing a lot of the old magic at Anfield lately— and Coutinho’s a big part of that.