Liverpool entered the January transfer window with an obvious need to bolster their attack. Daniel Sturridge arrived almost immediately, and now it appears the Reds are close to finalizing a deal with Inter Milan midfielder Philippe Coutinho.
Dominic King of the Daily Mail reports the two clubs came to an agreement of around £8.5 million for the 20-year-old Brazil international. Only minor hurdles remain, such as medical testing and work permits, before it becomes official.
Assuming there are no unexpected setbacks, the Reds will add a talented young player who should be eager for a chance to shine after struggling to find consistent playing time with Inter. A move to Anfield will get him more involved.
Coutinho would be joining a club that relied far too heavily on Luis Suarez during the season's first half. Luckily, the dynamic striker was able to produce enough goals to keep the Reds alive in the race for a European spot while he waited for help.
Some of that help has already arrived in Sturridge, who was in a similar holding pattern at Chelsea as Coutinho was in at Inter. Given an opportunity to see the field on a consistent basis, the young forward has thrived, scoring three goals in four matches.
Suarez is also getting some help from veteran midfielder Steven Gerrard. After a lackluster start to the campaign, which was often mirrored by his teammates, the captain's form has risen considerably over the past month.
Adding Coutinho would be another step in the right direction. Although he's still only begun to illustrate the type of player he can become if he reaches his sky-high potential, Coutinho is already strong on the ball and has good pace.
The best thing manager Brendan Rodgers can do is get him involved right away. Give him a couple starts early in his Liverpool tenure so he can get accustomed to the style and speed of play, even if that's not the plan for the entire second half.
After getting a chance to analyze him, Rodgers can decide whether to keep him in the starting lineup—filling the role Nuri Sahin couldn't during his failed loan stint—or bring him off the bench as an offensive weapon, when necessary.
Either way, Coutinho has the creativity and distribution skills needed to make an impact for the Reds right away. And it's hard to imagine Rodgers spending £8.5 million of his budget unless he planned on getting him in the mix.
Plenty of clubs enter the midseason window with high hopes only to walk away with the same roster they started with. It's not an easy period to make deals because prices are usually inflated, but if Rodgers can finish the Coutinho transfer, January will be a success.
Sturridge and Coutinho are both players capable of helping the offense this season, and their best football remains in front of them. Suarez will surely welcome the help.
Although Coutinho wasn't the biggest name on the transfer market, he would be a welcome addition to the Reds if they can put the finishing touches on the move.
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