Liverpool today have completed the transfer of Philipe Coutinho, signing the 20-year-old attacking midfielder to a long-term deal. With news that a deal was all but done to bring Coutinho to Anfield leaking last week, official confirmation of his £8.5M move is hardly a surprise.
It is, however, inarguably good news for Liverpool fans, with the club having responded to failings in last summer's transfer market by bringing in Daniel Sturridge and now Coutinho in January, strengthening a weak attacking lineup and doing more to push on in the second half of the season than any of the clubs ahead of them in the table.
"I'm feeling very happy," said Coutinho of his move to England. "It's a very important step in my career and I'm expecting to come here and play good football to give my contribution on the pitch. We've always heard about Liverpool's history in Brazil [and] I know they believe in me and my football."
When Coutinho first arrived at Inter Milan in 2010 he was one of the brightest prospects in Brazilian football, a name mentioned alongside the likes of Neymar, Oscar, Lucas Moura, and Lucas Piazon. However, after a strong start to life in Italy under Rafa Benitez, Coutinho has found playing time hard to come by—especially this season, with manager Andrea Stramaccioni favouring a 3-5-2 formation short on space for the young attacker's talents.
Brendan Rodgers' 4-3-3 should offer more opportunities to Coutinho at Liverpool, and a strong showing last season on loan with Espanyol suggests the player's struggles at Inter Milan since Benitez' departure may have more to do with the club than the player.
Still, expecting Coutinho to step in and make an instant impact given his age and slight stature may be overly optimistic, though that doesn't change the fact that Liverpool have snapped up an incredibly talented prospect at a bargain price. And after deservedly facing criticism for Liverpool's past transfer dealings, a lot of credit must go to managing director Ian Ayre for securing the deal.
"We're always delighted when we get the players we go after," said Ayre following the confirmation of Coutinho's signing. "It has been a successful transfer window for us, coming off the back of acquiring Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea and now Philippe from Inter Milan. I think that bodes well for us for the rest of the season and the future.
"He's obviously a very young player but has already proved himself in the Brazilian U19s, U20s and a first cap. He has been a really important player for them and now for us. In the early parts of discussions, I know Inter Milan were reluctant, but we did some good work and I'm pleased to say we secured him."
The arrival of a third singing before the window closes isn't out of the question, but in all likelihood Coutinho signals the end of Liverpool's movement this January—and no matter how Sturridge and Coutinho pan out over the longer term, looking at the deals in the present it's hard not to consider it a hugely successful window for the club.
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