Philippe Coutinho left Liverpool to join Barcelona in 2018, for what was at the time the second most expensive transfer ever - £142million.
However, his time in Spain has been frustrating. Despite having moments of magic, he has become a seemingly unwanted figure at the Spanish giants, as loan spells to Bayern Munich and now Aston Villa have shown.
The Brazilian’s importance for Liverpool throughout his five-year stay was immense. He picked up Liverpool Fans’ Player of the Season as well as Liverpool Players’ Player of the Season back-to-back in 2015 and 2016.
Coutinho also scored Liverpool's goal of the season in two consecutive campaigns from midfield and was included in the PFA Team of the Year in the 2014-15 season.
From playing in a three-man midfield, at the tip of a midfield diamond and cutting in from the left wing at times, Coutinho contributed 99 goals and assists in 201 games in all competitions for the Reds.
Although the Brazilian was our best player for several years, there is little doubt that selling him was one of the best pieces of transfer business in recent times.
Liverpool spent the earnings on defensive pair Virgil Van Dijk and Alisson – who helped guide the team to Premier League and Champions League successes.
However, since the 29-year-olds departure four years ago we haven’t found anyone to fill his void.
A nimble attacking minded player who is good in tight spaces and can open up compact teams, as well as weave in and out of defenders and score all types of goals.
Thiago is perhaps the closest we have come to a Coutinho replacement, but the Spaniards lack of goals, assists and acceleration over five yards just isn’t the same.
Naby Keita has shown signs of quality, but his constant injury troubles and inconsistency has stalled his LFC career so far, and there were also promising signs from Harvey Elliot prior to his horrific injury at Leeds.
You don’t have to look very far back to see where Coutinho’s skill set would be beneficial for Klopp’s current side, a perfect example being the Reds uninspiring 0-0 stalemate against ten man Arsenal on Thursday night.
The midfield three of Milner, Fabinho and Henderson was painful to watch at times, with the lack of any creativity and ability to beat a man evident.
It would have been a perfect game for the Brazilian to come on and make a difference in between the compact Arsenal defence.
The Chelsea game at Anfield earlier in the season is another prime example, where we played against ten men for 45 minutes but could only manage a draw.
With Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita all at AFCON for another few weeks, the Brazilian would’ve been a perfect replacement to slot in at the left-wing position.
He could also play on the left side of our midfield three, perhaps alongside Fabinho and Henderson or Thiago, to give the side a better balance of attack and defence when our star forwards return.
Simply having the option from the bench would make a big impact and give us more options to tinker formations and approaches, as we don’t currently have anyone who is a natural number ten.
Nostalgia may play a part in wanting Coutinho back in a Reds shirt, as there are doubts as to whether he would be anywhere near the player he was some five years ago.
When he first departed, his style of play along with Barcelona’s looked a match made in heaven, but for whatever reason success just hasn’t materialised in Spain.
This might be down to him feeling unwanted, as both new Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard and Brendan Rodgers have said in recent days that Philippe is a player who is at his best when he ‘feels the love’.
In my opinion, if he were to have returned to Liverpool, I think he would have felt that from Klopp and his teammates, which could’ve potentially sparked a return to his past brilliance.
There are a lot of fans that were opposed to the thought of the Barcelona midfielder returning.
This was largely due to the nature of his departure, in which he was reported to have refused to play in our Champions League qualifier against Hoffenheim and sustained several reported ‘injuries’ before representing Brazil on international duty.
But I don’t think there is any point in holding a grudge against him for events that happened years ago, things move fast in football, and it would be foolish to hold the past against him.
There are of course no guarantees as to whether he can find anything like his prime form that he showed at Liverpool for his new side Villa, but surely it would have been worth taking a risk on him for a six-month loan deal!
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