Match to match and month to month, Philippe Coutinho can be the only frontrunner for player of the year honours this season at Liverpool. A strong finish by Simon Mignolet or Martin Skrtel once he returns from suspension could make things interesting, but as of today the only player truly in the race is the one whose goal last night is taking the club to Wembley.
Which means, inevitably, that it’s time for the rumour mongers to start linking Liverpool's magical unicorn to other a few other clubs. First out of the gate are the Mirror, who have suggested that despite having just signed a new contract and appearing happy and settled at Anfield, Coutinho’s head could be turned by Manchester City this summer as the Citizens look to reload with proven Premier League talent.
For the time being at least it seems worth a dismissive shrug and little else—if Liverpool have the fortitude to stop a want-away Suarez heading to Arsenal, surely they have the fortitude to turn back any advances from City for a player who has shown no signs of being unhappy. Add in that the new deal he signed runs through 2020, and it’s fairly easy to roll one’s eyes at what seems a case of the Mirror being the Mirror.
It’s also worth remembering, when it comes to Coutinho, that the 22-year-old hasn't followed the same developmental path as many other young superstars, including teammate Raheem Sterling. Coutinho already had experience with top level football before arriving at Anfield—and it was an experience of being frozen out by the side that brought him in as potential saviour before nailing him to the bench.
Inter Milan was a frustrating experience for the young Brazilian, and he has since talked about how he was a poor fit for both the club and Italian league. It doesn’t mean Coutinho couldn’t ever be tempted by a move, but he does come across as a player more appreciative of the position he’s in than some youngsters might be. It also probably means Liverpool don’t have to worry about him ever moving back to Italy.
If he continues to improve, then a few years down the road the inevitable spectre of Barcelona and Real Madrid might well rise up, but for now at least, given Coutinho’s history and his contract situation—and the strength the club have shown in the recent past fending off interested league rivals—he seems about the last player on the squad that fans need to worry about heading into the summer.