Philippe Coutinho’s Anfield future remains uncertain. Or, perhaps, it’s that it feels like the only certainty is that he only has months left with the club he joined in January of 2013. A tumultuous summer that saw him hand in a transfer request and his agent plant negative stories to try to force a move can do that.
Still, even if Coutinho is destined to leave the club at the end of the current season and even if he won’t be quite so fondly remembered by the fans as he once seemed destined to be, he’s been a key player for the club for five seasons now—and the club has been key to his own development as a person and a player.
“When I first came to England, there was so much to adapt to and learn,” he told Goal’s Melissa Reddy. “It was a completely different experience, but also a challenging, exciting one. Every year, I’ve felt like I’ve taken more on and become better, more complete—not only with football but life in general.
“I have never wanted to settle, because I know that improvement is something that doesn’t stop. There are always new things you can pick up and many ways to develop. I’ve grown, but I’m not finished yet. I am confident now in many areas of the pitch—I don’t just attack better, I defend better too.”
Having arrived as a playmaker, as a diminutive ten, Coutinho has grown into a complete attacker a player able to play out on the wing or in midfield, as well as an increasingly confident dribbler and long-range finisher. He’s also developed a defensive side to his game and a stubborn streak off the ball.
It’s that more complete game that had Barcelona after him in the summer—and led to Coutinho embracing a scorched earth approach to try to force the move. What comes next, now that Coutinho is a player good enough for Barcelona to chase, though, isn’t something the player has a firm answer for.
“To be honest, I have never stopped to think about the player I wanted to become,” he added. “I have idols and an idea of success, yes, but I never had a picture in my head of how it should look. I guess it’s because I believe there’s always ways to improve myself so there can’t really be a complete picture.”