Jack Hallows tackles one of the toughest questions for a Liverpool fan to answer this summer: is Philippe Coutinho really irreplaceable?
I’m hoping for the best, preparing for the worst I have to admit.
While all signs so far suggest that Liverpool hold the cards when it comes to any bids for Coutinho – at least for this summer – we’ve been here before as fans. Far too often if I’m honest.
The Brazilian signed a new contract extension back in January handing him £150k a week, extending his stay by five more years and featuring no release clause, giving the Reds complete control over whether they choose to sell him or not and the price he would be allowed to go for.
Unconfirmed reports from Spain and Brazil claiming that the player has agreed terms with Barcelona, meaning all that’s left is for the Catalan giants to have a bid accepted, aren’t helping it has to be said.
While personally, I’m still confident that even if he really wants to go, Klopp will be able to hold onto Coutinho for at least one more year, it’s got to be asked: is Philippe Coutinho really as irreplaceable as fans are suggesting?
In the long term, no. Unless they are called Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, no footballer in the current game is ‘irreplaceable.’
However, whether or not he’s irreplaceable shouldn’t be the main argument and the situation is far more complicated than that one simple question.
Instead, we should be looking at whether it’s a smart decision for a club on the up to sell arguably their best and most important player, most valuable asset and the closest thing they have to a truly world-class talent.
The answer to that question is no.
The Brazilian is a genuinely multi-talented footballer, equally capable of operating wide left or in a central midfield berth.
He can play as Liverpool’s primary playmaker, pulling the strings from deep, pressing and hounding defenders when out of possession but is equally capable of taking games into his own hands, scoring ridiculous long ranged goals or dribbling through hordes of defenders to slot the ball past opposition goalkeepers before they can say “wow.”
His X-factor has also only become more prominent as well.
While previously the Brazilian had been coveted by Liverpool fans and called ‘overrated’ by those who support opposition teams, he was a genuine competitor for the title of best player in the Premier League last season until his injury in November.
Despite spending the following two months on the sidelines, he still finished the season with a career best tally of 14 goals and 9 assists in all competitions and was involved directly in a quarter of Liverpool’s total goals scored. Not bad, eh?
With Mohamed Salah signing on in June, Sadio Mané back to full fitness and Roberto Firmino set to reprise his role as the Reds’ ‘false nine,’ Liverpool simply cannot afford to sell Coutinho this summer.
The potential damage the Brazilian could cause when fielded in a deeper, playmaking role behind that front three is enough to leave even the most seasoned back four needing new underwear.
Add to this that Jürgen Klopp’s style of football is the personification of frantic and devastating, the German cannot afford to miss out on the chance to unleash this tactic on the Premier League and hopefully, the Champions League too.
No player in world football is completely irreplaceable and if Liverpool did lose Coutinho, it’s likely that their required price – rumoured to be as high as £133m – would see them able to buy a top-quality alternative.
However, football is not that simple and never will be. If the Reds truly want to challenge for top honours this season then they will need to rid themselves of the selling club tag that has plagued them in recent years while realising that consistency is key.
Consistency that cannot be achieved if you sell your biggest assets every time Barcelona come knocking.