Liverpool have struggled to create as much as they did in the beginning of the season and James Winstone believes that this could have something to do with Philippe Coutinho’s injury-enforced absence.

The beloved little magician has been in and out of our squad for nearly four years now and has established himself as one of the best players in the Premier League since his move from Inter Milan in 2013.

He has recently returned after being out for two months with an injury to his ankle but looked as sharp as ever when he first came back. The team around him seemed to click and it’s almost as if he was saying “hand me the ball lads, and everything will be okay” and that they did. Within a couple minutes of him being back against Manchester United he already nearly set up a goal which led many fans to believe that he just as well could be the key to our success this season.

Sure, we have players like Sadio Mane, James Milner, Jordan Henderson etc. who have all exceeded expectations this season but for some years now Coutinho has been branded “The Little Magician” as he is just that! He has the ability to ghost past defenders, switch onto his right side and place a curler in the top corner. A good example of his shooting quality was the season opener against Arsenal where, from quite a way out, he curled a world class free kick into the top corner past Arsenal’s veteran goalkeeper Petr Cech.

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His stats are nothing to be argued with as he is currently on five goals and five assists in 15 appearances in the Premier League. The 24 year old Brazilian also scored three goals in three games for his nation’s side in the Copa America last year.

Unfortunately, he didn’t shine in Liverpool’s recent defeat to Swansea at Anfield in which Jürgen Klopp’s squad desperately missed their in-form Senegalese winger Manè who is currently free-scoring for his nation in AFCON. With him expected to be in Africa for a long while, Coutinho just might have to take over and fill the gaping hole which Manè has left since his departure.

Another issue is that many people including highly regarded players believe Coutinho to be so great and talented that he deserves a place in the Barcelona squad. One example is former Barcelona player Rivaldo when he spoke about his current career path in the Premier League. The World Cup winner in 2002 and former world player of the year was quoted as saying, “In my opinion, he’s a great player. A player who knows Neymar well, they are both friends.

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“I think that this transfer might happen because Barcelona is always going to attract the best.

“He is one of the players who stands out and I believe that this transfer – if he goes to Barcelona – would be a good thing for Barcelona, for sure. He is a player who would definitely help Barcelona.”

These media talks and articles about Coutinho leaving for another giant like Barca has fans very worried as it’s not the first time Liverpool have had their key man depart for better conditions. A prime example is the current best striker in the world Luis Suarez who is undoubtedly one of the greatest players the Premier League has ever seen but chose to leave Liverpool for Barcelona as it was his “dream.”

Should this happen to Coutinho too, we can only guess who would fill his boots in such a major role as we still haven’t filled the void Suarez left behind at Anfield a few years ago.

Now we have the rest of the season to look forward to, we can only hope the little magician decides to take his game to the next level and help in the looming task of bringing cup or league success this season and not be tempted by the high-flying sides like Barcelona.

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