Liverpool may have finally found their upgrade on Philippe Coutinho. It’s been a long time coming.
Otavio has a release clause of around £30m but Liverpool hope to negotiate under it. They’ve apparently bid just under £20m but included Marko Grujic in the offer. The Serbian spent last season with Porto, of course.
That’s something we saw coming – it’s a smart move given Otavio’s release clause jumps up in July with his new contract.
It remains to be seen if that’s accepted or how serious Liverpool are with their interest. What does seem certain, though, is that Otavio could be the player they’ve wanted for years.
Philippe Coutinho upgrade
Rewind to late 2017 and Philippe Coutinho is undoubtedly the best player at Liverpool. The Reds’ success since – and the Brazilian’s failed move to Barcelona – led to his form flying under the radar somewhat.
Because Coutinho was unbelievable over the first half of the 17/18 season. In 19 games, he scored 13 and assisted eight. He was creating three chances per game for teammates and averaging over three dribbles.
Coutinho was wonderful but Liverpool had a problem – he didn’t fit in the team. The Brazilian’s defence isn’t his strong suit, meaning Jurgen Klopp didn’t like playing him in his midfield three.
But Coutinho also isn’t the quickest. That didn’t mesh with Roberto Firmino’s False 9 play – Liverpool needed wingers who could run in behind and take advantage of the space.
While Coutinho also couldn’t really play as a no.10 because Firmino needed to drop into that space.
So a rare thing happened: Liverpool sold their best player and dramatically improved. They brought in £142m for Coutinho and never actually replaced him, yet two years later they were World champions.
Otavio, much like Coutinho, is a Brazilian playmaker. He’s picked up 17 assists over his last two season, averaging around two created chances per game.
He’s not quite on Coutinho’s level creatively, then, but he’s roughly similar in what he likes to do. Otavio dribbles past players and tries to find teammates.
What Otavio does better, however, is win tackles. He averaged two per game last season, which was actually down on three per game the year before.
This, then, is a player Klopp could absolutely play in his midfield trio. Otavio can win the ball back and be solid enough, while still offering creativity going forward.
That makes him a better fit than Coutinho was back in 2017. While he may never reach his level, Otavio should slot into the Liverpool team in ways the ex-Red couldn’t.
Liverpool may have found their Coutinho replacement four years later.