Liverpool

Liverpool Transfers: Is Philippe Coutinho a Tactical Fit for the Reds?

MILAN, ITALY - DECEMBER 02:  Coutinho of FC Inter Milan in action during the Serie A match between FC Internazionale Milano and US Citta di Palermo at San Siro Stadium on December 2, 2012 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images
Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJanuary 23, 2013

Philippe Coutinho has been heavily linked with a move to Liverpool. The Guardian suggest an initial £8 million bid has been rejected, while Goal.com report that a delegate has flown to Italy to thrash out a deal.

If the Reds do land the Inter starlet, how would he fit into Brendan Rodgers' system?

Speaking objectively, this is a strange one.

Fans will clamour for the big-name Brazilian, but from a purely tactical point of view, this move has seems a bit quizzical.

Coutinho burst onto the scene as a rough-edged prospect two years ago and tried his level-best when given a chance in the first-team. Inter fans were desperate for him to score, so he had the full backing of the crowd.

Once it cooled off a tinge and he became "part of the furniture," the enthusiasm in his game dipped to some extent.

This is pretty normal for a No. 10—they're not built to run around like headless chickens—but the model for success at Anfield right now has been set, with Jordan Henderson doing exactly that.

The energy he provides "in the hole" in the adapted 4-2-1-3 formation doesn't just panic defenders, but ties up the midfielders so Steven Gerrard can wreak havoc unopposed.

The English maestro is effectively a regista at Liverpool now and drops so deep that no one can press him. When that happens, he has time to look up and pick a deadly pass. There are few players in the game you'd want to give less time on the ball.

The question is: With this newfound successful formation and style, how does Coutinho fit in?

The answer, of course, is that he doesn't.

He doesn't provide the menacing, distracting energy that Henderson does, nor does he come close to second-choice Jonjo Shelvey in this facet of the game, either.

The other concern lies in what happens on the reverse. You can count on Henderson to get stuck in when Liverpool are going backward, but what can Coutinho offer in this aspect?

It's no coincidence that nine of the 11 players Brendan Rodgers plays can contribute in almost every area of the pitch—he didn't just put Stewart Downing at left-back and Jose Enrique at left-wing for a laugh.

Liverpool do not play with a genuine No. 10, but rather with a hybrid version of one who does a little bit of everything. Coutinho is not well-rounded enough to fulfill this diverse role. He's the star of the show, not the unsung hero.

That said, why not open up your options? If Rodgers doesn't feel like he's got a player who can perform that classic No. 10 role, why not bring one in to give the Reds a choice?

Coutinho plays comfortably from the left, too, so it's not like it's the only role he can play.

The biggest question—especially if the transfer goes over €10 million—is whether this is an urgent need.

Is there another area of the squad on which you feel the money would be better spent?

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