Roberto Firmino sets the press for Jürgen Klopp’s side, Sadio Mané brings the pace, and Adam Lallana’s tireless running has him first name on the team sheet. Quietly, though, there has been a buzz growing around Philippe Coutinho. A buzz saying that he might just be the league’s best player right now.
“In my opinion he's the best player in the league at the moment,” was teammate Dejan Lovren’s take when asked about the Brazilian’s season so far—which included an assist for Lovren’s goal off a corner against Crystal Palace on Saturday. “I have the pleasure and the honour to play with this guy.
“He wasn't just outstanding against Palace, he’s been like that all year. His crosses were perfect. He is a main part of the team, but it’s not an individual thing that wins us points, it’s the team work. It was the team that beat Palace, but of course when a team works really good then individual qualities comes out.”
That quality has seen Coutinho register four goals and four assists in ten league games this season—with five and five in all competitions—at a goal or assist every 94 minutes he’s on the pitch. Its an outstanding return; a world class return in line with the best players in any of Europe’s top leagues.
It’s also the kind of return that had Catalan’s Sport floating his name in connection with Barcelona this week, though for now at least the suggestion is that Coutinho isn’t actually target. If he keeps playing this way, though, some of Europe’s biggest clubs will come sniffing around for him sooner or later.
Of course, if he does keep playing this way, Liverpool are likely to be back in the Champions League next season. They might even have a genuine shot at winning the title. And that, in turn, could help to convince Coutinho to stay should the day come when that interest is tangible and not just possibility.
And regardless of what happens down the road, in the present, Lovren is right: at the moment, Philippe Coutinho very much looks like he just might be the best player in the Premier League.