One of my favorite Beatles songs is The Long and Winding Road. Sure, it’s beautiful and has that pretty perfect mix of regret and nostalgia that is maybe my brand. But I think it’s that I’m just generally more prone to looking backwards and smoothing all of the wrinkles in order to accommodate a more soft rendering of events. Because, at my core, I suppose I’m afraid of being alone. And when people walk out or things fall apart, that tender spot recoils in anxiety over that very thought.
With the light of day, of course, I’m reminded that things happened for reasons. That the dissolution of a relationship might be sad but is also generally indicative of better things ahead for both parties.
It’s tough to see a way back, though, when things ended with a bit of acrimony. That’s why we’re treating the reports that Liverpool may be interested in bringing back former Red and current Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho with a bit of skepticism.
That the obvious familiarity with the creative magician’s abilities would provide an instant link isn’t in question. What is, though, is how the context of that relationship - both in footballing and personal terms - seems to paint this slate of reports as nothing but more rumor mongering to meet the every insatiable need for transfer rumors.
It may be hard to remember, but Coutinho’s departure coincided with an era of Liverpool play in which the system somehow found a bit more stability and coordination in its movements. A lot of that, of course, is owed to the arrival of Virgil Van Dijk and then of Alisson Becker. But there’s something to be said in how Phil’s presence necessarily required Klopp to finagle his tactics to make space for the Brazilian’s talents without detracting from the overall solidity of the set up.
With a full season in what looks like Klopp’s dream set up finally realized, one must ask the question of how Phil might even fit into the squad. Some among us may say, simply, that you do what you can to fit in a player with the ability to conjure magic in the way Coutinho could. We also know that Phil has bounced back from career stalls and challenges well.
But we also know that even for a player like Phil, that midfield looks a bit crowded. Should Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita be fully recovered and integrated into the squad, Phil would have to fight them for minutes in the most advanced spot in midfield. He’d likely be most naturally slotted in as part of the forward rotation on the left side of the attacking trio, which would definitely answer a spot of need.
All of that, though, is also within the context of the way the Brazilian orchestrated his exit from the squad. Interviews intimating a distaste for Jurgen Klopp’s managerial style. Burning bridges on the way out. Can someone come back from that?
I suppose the rest of the window will reveal the truth at the heart of the matter soon enough. Liverpool’s dealings have been, predictably, kept under wraps to this point. None of the rumors reported thus far come with the backing of deeply connected journalists, which means this may all be smoke. And given that the reports link other clubs - clubs a little lower on the pecking order in English football, like Chelsea and Manchester United - in the pursuit of Philippe Coutinho, then it feels like Liverpool is more of an after-thought addition.
Either way, I guess this might be a thing and while we remain entirely dubious of this being a thing that is likely to come to pass, it’s at least one more thing to think about as the transfer season chugs along.