Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher has urged the Reds to break the bank in order to sign former playmaker Philippe Coutinho from Barcelona.
The Brazilian left in January 2018 after declaring his intention to win major trophies alongside Lionel Messi at the Nou Camp. Yet Liverpool dumped his Barcelona side out of the Champions League on a stirring night at Anfield last season and went on to clinch Europe’s most coveted prize. Now Barca want to cut their losses on Coutinho and Carragher reckons Liverpool should welcome him back with open arms.
“I still think they could add a creative player,” said the former centre-back. “I’d love to see Liverpool bring back Coutinho if that was possible in any way. Obviously, it hasn’t worked out for him at Barcelona. I just think he would be a great addition. You’ve got Lallana and Shaqiri in those positions, but they’re not Coutinho. He would give something that they don’t have compared to City.”
The bookmakers are anticipating another two-horsed Premier League title race between Liverpool and Man City next season. Pep Guardiola’s men won their final 14 games of the 2018/19 campaign to overhaul the Reds and win the title by a single point. Now they are bidding for a third Premier League triumph in a row and the leading betting websites make them the odds-on favourites to pull it off. Liverpool are out at around 5/2, while Tottenham are 16/1, Chelsea are 25/1, Man Utd are 30/1 and Arsenal are 50/1.
It is hard to see any of the other so-called Big Six sides threatening the duopoly of Liverpool and Man City next season. They were all well off the pace last term, and none have significantly improved this summer. Man City secured 98 points last season, the second highest tally in Premier League history, and they still felt the need to invest in their squad this summer. Rodri has joined in a club record deal from Atletico Madrid, and more signings are likely.
Liverpool have been inactive in the transfer window, and that is beginning to cause consternation among fans.
They say that if you stand still you go backwards. Bringing in fresh faces during the summer can galvanise a squad by injecting an exciting new dynamic into proceedings and increasing the competition for places. There is an argument that Liverpool do not need much in the way of reinforcements, as their key players are all the right side of 30, they have the energy to adhere to Jurgen Klopp’s Gegenpressing style, and they also have the experience to grind out important results.
It is true that there are no obvious gaps in the Liverpool first team, but scratch beneath the surface and the picture is not quite so rosy. Klopp has a number of midfield options at his disposal, while Joe Gomez provides strong competition for Joel Matip and Trent Alexander-Arnold. But Liverpool could do with another forward to cover for Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino.
It might seem ludicrous to splash the cash on Coutinho if he is not guaranteed a starting berth, but that is the enviable position Liverpool are in. He is versatile enough to play out wide in a front three, while he could also operate at the point of a three-man midfield when more creativity is required.
Liverpool ultimately lost out to Man City last season because they drew too many games in which they dominated possession but struggled to make a breakthrough. We all know that Coutinho’s has the ability to unlock the tightest defences around, while his ability to shoot from long range would add another dimension to Liverpool’s attack next season.
He is proven in the Premier League and he could walk straight into the team in the opening week if Mané is still tired from the Africa Cup of Nations. He has played alongside Coutinho for Brazil in their successful Copa America campaign this summer, but his legs should be reasonably fresh after a light schedule in May. He would certainly be a controversial signing, and many fans would not welcome him back, but Coutinho would soon be forgiven if he fired Liverpool to the title.