James Rodriguez would give Liverpool the versatility that Philippe Coutinho lacked. Reports link the Colombian with a move to Anfield.
The Mirror claim that Liverpool are looking at James as a direct replacement for Coutinho. This potential move comes after Bayern Munich decided against signing the player permanently from Real Madrid for £37m.
So, how would James work as a Coutinho replacement for Liverpool? Well, while debates over their respective abilities can be had, his versatility means he’d likely be a very good one.
Jurgen Klopp always appeared to have one major problem with Coutinho. The Brazilian wasn’t particularly versatile and that created issues.
Coutinho wants to play in the space between the opposition defence and midfield. You either let him do that as a ‘number 10’ or you play him from the left where he can cut in.
That’s problematic as Klopp has rarely used a number 10 and wants to play with wingers who stretch play. Coutinho, for all his talent and performances, didn’t really fit in.
The difference between James and Coutinho
But James is different. He can certainly fill the roles that Coutinho liked, as either a central attacking midfielder or cutting in (although, as a left-footer, this would be done from the other side). He’s also more comfortable playing in a traditional midfield than Coutinho was.
Vitally, he can play wide on his stronger side, too. It means that James can play a more traditional winger or wide-midfielder role – something that should interest Liverpool.
We’ve seen how valuable crossing is under Klopp but purely from full-backs. James’ ability to do that from midfield – and with considerable technique – would offer something new. It would allow Liverpool to create from similar positions without having to push full-backs on all the time.
That’s not to say that James can’t do so much more, of course, and we shouldn’t forget that he’s primarily a central player. It is an example of his versatility, though, and that’s something that would benefit Liverpool in ways that Coutinho simply couldn’t.