Last season, Philippe Coutinho stepped up and became Liverpool’s best player. Steven Gerrard may have been the captain, and Raheem Sterling the bright prospect, but 23-year-old Coutinho was their best player by a fair margin.
Now, with Gerrard out of the picture, come the question of who steps up and fills the void he left behind. Much of that, though, misses the point that in many ways, that player was already at the club—and already their best player, even while Gerrard was still on the books.
"I have been a big admirer of Coutinho and he can be a very important player for Liverpool and Brazil," said Kaka. "I know that he can handle it. One great player doesn’t make a team, but you can build a team around one great player, and I believe he can be that player."
A stunning strike to win Liverpool all three points against Stoke on opening day was in some ways only further confirmation of Coutinho’s importance to Liverpool. Without Gerrard, though, he is going to now find himself consistently highlighted as that key, important player.
And while Kaka knows that nobody is perhaps going to literally be the new Steven Gerrard for Liverpool, he does believe Coutinho has the talent to step up as Liverpool’s most important player—and their new talisman—now that their old one has headed off to Los Angeles.
"Coutinho is a humble guy," added the Brazil legend. "He won't talk about being able to replace a legend like Steven Gerrard, and the truth is nobody could ever replace him, but with Gerrard gone they do need somebody to step up—and he can do that."