‘Fantastic’ Philippe Coutinho came close to winning the Premier League with Liverpool and his transfer to Barcelona funded deals for Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker, but he could now ruin the former side’s title hopes


Philippe Coutinho was in the form of his life at Liverpool, adored by the Anfield faithful and could have been a club legend.

But then Barcelona called and the Brazilian swapped Merseyside for Spain in a deal that cost £146million. He now has the chance to end the Reds’ Premier League title hopes alongside Steven Gerrard at Aston Villa.

Coutinho has become an excellent player at Anfield

Coutinho was a key part of Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool side in 2013/14 that dumped the title at Manchester City, so he’s had the heartache before.

But he could inflict pain tonight as Jurgen Klopp’s side visit Villa Park desperate for three points.

The Brazilian signed for Liverpool in January 2013 from Inter Milan, and in his first full season he came so close to winning the league.

Coutinho made 35 appearances, scored five goals and provided seven assists as the Reds lost the title in the space of two matches against Chelsea and Crystal Palace.

Before those games, Coutinho scored the winner in a 3-2 victory over City at Anfield which took the Reds seven points clear of the eventual champions.

However, City have won their last five to clinch a title that looked destined to end up on Merseyside until Steven Gerrard slipped against Chelsea.

That year turned out to be Coutinho’s closest to winning the Premier League.

But after Rodgers’ departure and Klopp’s arrival, his personal performances have improved.

Jurgen Klopp expects Liverpool bosses to deny Philippe Coutinho move to Barcelona - but will accept whatever decision is made
Klopp managed to get the most out of Coutinho


Under Klopp’s guidance and with a bigger role in the team, he provided 59 goal contributions in 89 appearances.

So, although Liverpool struggled on the pitch after the 2013/14 campaign, Coutinho was producing his best football.

Klopp clearly loved the attacking midfielder, as evidenced by some of his quotes during the 2017/18 campaign: “He’s a fantastic footballer and a fantastic boy.

“I know he feels completely more than fine and comfortable. He loves the club and the city.

“He’s a key player for us. He feels more than good at Liverpool.

Coutinho also thought the German had a big influence on his game.

In 2017, he said, “He helped me a lot.

“I think the way he helped me play when we don’t have the ball when the team is under pressure is really different.

“I’m in a deeper position now and still trying to improve and be able to score goals and trigger moves because my position requires it.

“I think playing there is a position where you can play the ball a lot.

“You become more involved in the game. It’s a position I feel like I’ve adapted to and I like it.

'Fantastic' Philippe Coutinho came close to winning the Premier League with Liverpool and his transfer to Barcelona funded deals for Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker, but he could now ruin the former side's title hopes
Coutinho then left Liverpool for a huge fee in January 2018

Of course, Klopp and Coutinho’s relationship ended in January 2018 when Barcelona signed the Brazilian for £146million, one of the most expensive transfers ever.

Considering the way Coutinho started the 2017/18 campaign with 12 goals and eight assists in all competitions, you would have been forgiven for thinking Liverpool would struggle without him.

But they went ahead and used the money raised from Coutinho’s sale to acquire Virgil van Dijk for £75m.

Then the following summer, the Reds splashed out £66million on Alisson Becker.

Since these two arrived at Anfield, Klopp’s side have won the Champions League, Premier League and Carabao Cup, while they could win three more trophies this year.

'Fantastic' Philippe Coutinho came close to winning the Premier League with Liverpool and his transfer to Barcelona funded deals for Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker, but he could now ruin the former side's title hopes
Van Dijk and Alisson turned Liverpool into a top team
Getty

The sale of Coutinho allowed the Reds to build and evolve into the team they have become.

However, his career hasn’t quite gone to plan since leaving Anfield, and the former Inter player is now on loan at Aston Villa under Gerrard.

Considering he cost Barcelona so much money, they never really found a way to get the most out of him, and a permanent move to Villa Park is on the cards.

However, before all that, could he have a big impact on Liverpool’s title hopes?

Well, Coutinho should be involved against his former side and Klopp knows the quality he has but the German warned him before he left that he could be a legend at Anfield and have a statue.

Instead, he will have to ask himself what could have been and focus on producing a performance that could give Manchester City the title.

Coutinho has produced so many game-winning matches it would be good if he came up with another one to rob Klopp of a second Premier League title and remind everyone that he is still a top player.

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