With the international break approaching we knew Philippe Coutinho would be available to play for Brazil. The back injury, the subsequent illness, these were lies. Their existence was a business decision, ploys to ensure that he wouldn’t risk injury before an ugly move to Barcelona as well a show of difficulty that might sway Liverpool towards letting go of a talented but burdensome player. The business lies didn’t work in the end. Liverpool were adamant that Coutinho would stay and as much as we will sweat these next several hours until the transfer window shuts in Spain, the little Brazilian is expected to return to Merseyside when his national team commitments are up.
If you’re looking for positives, I’ve got one for you. Coutinho will come back to Melwood fit and ready. He featured throughout Liverpool’s preseason and regardless of an extended period of relaxing Pug Life, he’s gone straight into the Brazil squad.
Coutinho played the final thirty minutes for Brazil against Ecuador, scoring the second of two goals as Brazil won 2-0 in the World Cup qualifier.
After the match, Neymar did his best to paint his friend in a sympathetic light.
“I’m very happy that he scored a goal because at this moment he lives a very great sadness,” said Neymar.
“He helped us to the victory. He’s a great player and did very well when he came on.”
I’m of the opinion that Coutinho can have this little lap of defeat after such a taxing spell for us all. Talk about the sadness, let it out, spread it around. I don’t care. But he should come back to Liverpool with his chin up, ready to get to work. And the wallowing should be done.
Coutinho is arguable not Liverpool’s best player anymore. He’s excellent and nobody in the squad can do what he does. But Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino, in particular, are crucial for the team. Emre Can looks like taking another step up this season to be a force in midfield. And Mohamed Salah may usurp them all come next May.
Phil will have to play his best season yet to maintain his nailed-on starter status. He will have to work through his own patches of inconsistency to show the world that he really was worth all that fuss and money. Hopefully, this leads to an even better Coutinho than we’ve seen. Hopefully, Liverpool can make a deep run in the Champions League so we don’t have to go through the Barcelona shake-down all over again in January.