Philippe Coutinho’s facts are clear for Liverpool as a big decision awaits


Philippe Coutinho was 28 years old today. He is now at his peak as a footballer but his career has reached an important crossroads.It has been a rather disappointing period for the Brazilian since he traded Anfield for Camp Nou in January 2018.

Unable to recover his best form in La Liga, he has often drifted in and out of Barcelona and has not really managed to cement a fixed role in their starting lineup.

As a result, he was loaned to Bayern Munich this warrant where he showed a glimpse of his best, but apparently not enough to persuade the German champions to sign it on a permanent deal.

Despite the above, the Brazilian has always produced good performances for the Catalan side and he can still boast a record 32 goals or assists in his 76 games in Barcelona. Still, the same seems sadly mundane when viewed in conjunction with the £ 142 million paid to bring him to the club.

In many ways, however, on second thought, it was a transfer always doomed to failure. While Coutinho was majestic at Anfield, it was the platform provided by Liverpool that made this happen. For Jurgen Klopp’s men, he received a license to thrill. He was the key cog in the offensive game and the regular possession target in the opposing half.

While he often started on the left side of Liverpool’s attack, he was free to travel the last third in an attempt to influence the game – it was something that could sometimes be to the detriment of the players around him. .

The problem in Barcelona, ​​however, was that in the fairly rigid system of former manager Ernesto Valverde, this kind of freedom could only be granted to one player, and that player was always going to be Lionel Messi.

Therefore, Coutinho often became a facilitator and a member of the supporting cast, rather than the star of the series like in Liverpool. It limited his opportunities to produce the kind of magic moments that persuaded Barcelona to make him his number one target in 2018.

Although the transfer turned out to be miserable for Coutinho, it turned out to be very successful for Liverpool. Beyond the money received that funded movements for people like Alisson and Virgil Van Dijk, there was a greater balance brought to the 4-3-3 formation at Liverpool, as highlighted below.

For Liverpool, Coutinho was primarily on the left in their threesome attack – and as we can see, he was the main focal point for many of Liverpool’s assists.

The Brazilian’s tendency to drive and dribble on a defense meant that the support of his teammates rarely gathered around him to support him, often giving him room to maneuver while seeking to occupy other areas of the field. This creates the almost unbalanced attack seen above.

Note the difference in both the average player position and the team’s passing behavior, with Sadio Mane now deployed to the left for Liverpool.

The Senegalese international is a true Liverpool striker, which means that he will often stay on the left side of the field and will be supported by his teammates inside and around him.

This creates better numerical benefits and allows good combinations of passes with teammates, which means less dependence on the brilliance of a single player.

The differences between the two in terms of positioning are highlighted in the pass card below which illustrates the passing areas of each player.

As we can see, although it is mainly deployed in the same position, there is a noticeable difference in the passage volumes of different areas of the terrain.

The majority of Coutinho’s passes came from a position of the field more associated with a number ten, while most of Mane’s came from the left.

All of the above illustrates more that despite the problems Coutinho has faced since leaving Anfield, at least from a Liverpool perspective, things could not have gone better.

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The club’s finances and the field balance teams have improved significantly as a result of his departure.

Coutinho now faces a big decision as he hopes to relaunch his career with his next move. His agent Kia Joorabchian has certainly said a lot, with a change to the Premier League a distinct possibility.

But there is little chance that the Reds will enter the fray for him, as Klopp and his team move forward and backward without having to look back.

* A version of this article was originally published in May 2020.


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