Michael Baddeley explains why it is absolutely vital that Liverpool hold on to Philippe Coutinho, regardless of what it takes.

Another game and another Coutinho wonder-strike, only this time it was for the Seleção. At times I find it hard to believe that we signed the lad for EIGHT million pounds.

He has shown his potential with a number of magical performances ever since he joined the Reds back in 2013. But to the frustration of the Liverpool faithful, he’s also been rather inconsistent with his form. A few stunning showings would be followed up by a handful of games where he’d go missing.

But this season the little magician has taken his game to a whole new level. He has scored five goals in the Premier League, a tally which means he is already three goals off of his best return in the league. Let’s not forget his five assists as well!

Eleven games, five goals and five assists – I challenge anyone to tell me that this isn’t world class.

In the past, it’s been easy to just throw compliments his way for a few good games. But this season he’s truly earned it. In-fact it’s getting to the point where we are running out of superlatives for him.

However, along with the unstoppable form comes the inevitable interest from top European teams. In the summer we saw links to PSG and more recently Real Madrid. But then comes the rekindled interest from the Catalonian side that took Suarez from us. I’m obviously talking about Barcelona.

On Friday morning, Barcelona-based newspaper Sport ran the headline ‘Objetivo Coutinho’. The worrying thing here is that the headline was already planned before his magic show versus Argentina, so regardless of his performance on Thursday night, the story was still going to be run.

In the report, the paper claims there has been regular contact between the player’s representatives and the club. There might be nothing on the table as of yet, but it is inevitable that something will come of this in the future.

To strengthen the rumours even more, Barcelona players have already started their public appraisal of our magician, something they seem to do months in advance of the club’s pursuit of the so-called ‘big signing’. You only have to look back at the build up to the Neymar and Suarez deals to see what I mean here.

The lure Barca has on South American players, in particular, is a scary factor and it will no doubt be in the back of the minds of Liverpool fans across the globe. Let’s not forget his long-term friend Neymar is already at the club along with his good friend, and ex-Liverpool player Luis Suarez.

The whole affair will bring back bad memories for us fans. We develop a star and yet again Barcelona come and snatch him away from our grips. The fear that we are a feeder club for these big sides will play with us for however long this rumour goes on for.

But in the summer, Klopp spoke about how he wanted Liverpool to be a club where players wanted to get to, not somewhere they could use as a stepping stone. This is his first real chance to show his intent on doing so.

As a club, we haven’t looked this appealing to players in a long time. Hopefully, Coutinho in particular. A manager as good as Klopp who is pushing us for a title fight in his first full season, players such as Firmino, Mané and Matip are creating a real strong spine and we are nowhere near the finished article yet.

We are in a very strong position to push forward as a club and also in a very strong position in any potential deal clubs want to try and force for little Phil.

The fact that he doesn’t have a buy-out clause to start with just means all we have to do is maintain our stance and reject any offers that come in. Then there’s the fact that he is happy on Merseyside.

In a recent interview with the Liverpool Echo, the samba-star claimed, “Liverpool feels like my home, I feel happy, settled and comfortable here with the city and the people”. He then followed this up with “The supporters are very nice. The fans here make me feel amazing”. I think it’s safe to say we love David Blaine, as Daniel Sturridge would say, and he loves us too. 

Regardless of his declared fondness of the club and city, we should do everything in our power to keep him happy. That should start with a new contract which would make him the highest paid player we own – a contract that would represent his status at the club.

The ultimate thing that could keep him is winning trophies. A player of his quality will want to look back at his career when he’s retired and have a cabinet bursting with medals, trophies and memories that would last a lifetime. We might not be able to win as many as Barca, mainly because there’s more than two or three good teams in England, but let’s give the lad something to celebrate.

This is definitely a biased view but at the moment, I don’t see why Coutinho would want to leave Merseyside.

For starters, he will never be as loved or as appreciated by any other fan-base, no questions asked. If he were to up sticks and move to Madrid or Barca, he would just be another player they own. Whereas at Liverpool, he will always be the stand-out player, and if he stays and proves his skill in the toughest league in the world then he can look back and say he’s earned everything he’s won and people won’t be able to question his ability. But if he takes the easy route to success then people could always suggest he was carried by others.

He has the age and potential to go on and become a true Liverpool legend, let’s just hope both Philippe and the club realise this before it’s too late.

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