Should Liverpool give Philippe Coutinho a second chance?
Background photo: Rept0n1x CC BY-SA 3.0
Not for the first time, and certainly not the last, Barcelona spent a mammoth fee to secure a megastar two weeks ago. Antoine Griezmann finally left Atletico Madrid to fulfill his desire of representing the Catalan giants. Following many twists and turns, Camp Nou is now home to the French attacker after his £107-million release clause was met. It is simply phenomenal.
Players whose transfers command hefty fees inevitably have hefty expectations placed on their shoulders. Although not Barca's most expensive player, Griezmann is still required to justify his price-tag in the coming season. At this point, one could be wondering what has happened to Blaugrana's record signing.
That player's Philippe Coutinho, by the way. The Brazil international was a fan-favorite while donning the Liverpool jersey between 2013-18. His dribbling, curling shots, defense-splitting passes, and magical skills imprinted his name onto the hearts of Anfield's faithful.
Then, though, developments at Barcelona changed Coutinho's path. Neymar left Camp Nou to join Paris Saint-Germain just prior to the 2017/18 campaign. It became clear Andres Iniesta would quit the club in a year's time. Hence, suitable reinforcement was needed. Unfortunately for Liverpool, their talented playmaker topped that particular list.
The opportunity to represent Barca proved too good for Coutinho to turn down. Despite Liverpool's firm resistance, he eventually forced his move, costing a whooping £130 million.
Given his fee and the tremendous reputation he'd built at Anfield, a lot was expected of Coutinho. Joining halfway through 2017/18, he played an influential role as the Blaugrana claimed both La Liga and the Copa del Rey. His contribution read ten goals and six assists in 22 appearances. A perfect start, then.
It didn't last. After delivering in his first five months, Coutinho was expected to give more. He couldn't satisfy Barcelona fans' demands. Luck turned against him, resulting in a season to forget.
Coutinho recorded only 11 goals, 5 assists in 53 appearances. He fell out with his own supporters, who made their displeasure known by greeting him with plenty of jeers from the stands.
Following another humiliating European elimination, Barca are reshuffling their squad. Griezmann could soon be joined in attack by Neymar. This has led to speculation linking Coutinho with a move away.
Numerous clubs are reportedly monitoring his situation, but the one that pulls the most attention is Liverpool. The question is, does Coutinho deserve a second chance at Anfield?
Many hearts were broken and many damages were done when he forced his exit. Re-signing him could be a mess to Liverpool's reputation. It won't go down well with all supporters, making it difficult to re-accommodate the player.
However, should the Reds ignore the negative memories and grant an escape route, they would be sending a huge statement to their Premier League rivals. Despite his struggles in Catalonia, Coutinho remains one of the most talented stars on the planet.
Liverpool are yet to sign an attacking midfield replacement. Returning the Brazilian there will rejuvenate that department. His understanding with Jurgen Klopp means he'd thrive once again.
By deploying Coutinho, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, Liverpool's firepower will be tremendous in the coming season. It could prove enough to win the Premier League.