Philippe Coutinho has generated a lot of hype since Liverpool completed a deal with Inter Milan to land the young midfielder late in the January transfer window. While he's illustrated terrific potential, Reds fans must give him some early leeway.
Coutinho shined during a loan spell with Espanyol last season, but struggled to stand out with Inter. The Serie A side's attacking depth made it tough for him to get consistent playing time. He received just three starts in the season's first half, scoring one goal.
The lack of time on the pitch paired with moving to the Premier League will increase the difficulty of his transition. It's going to take some time to find top form while also dealing with the normally physical play of the EPL.
He's received support from his new teammates, including fellow Brazil international Lucas Leiva. The defensive midfielder believes Coutinho definitely has the skill set to succeed at Anfield, according to James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo.
He is a proper Brazilian with a lot of skill and he likes to play with the ball and score goals. He had a very good spell at Espanyol when he was on loan last season and I think he will be a great player for the future for us.
The key word there is future. Nobody knows exactly how long it will take for him to settle in to the Premier League, but it's easy to see why Liverpool wanted to take a chance on him. He should become a key piece of the squad.
Reds fans would surely like that to happen right away. In a perfect world, he would step right into the starting lineup and never look back. However, there are likely going to be some rough patches along the way, and supporters need to keep that in mind.
Manager Brendan Rodgers should attempt to get him involved right away, which will at least get those initial jitters out of the way. After that, he should have a pretty good indication of what Coutinho provides right now and can go from there.
No single aspect of Coutinho stands out yet. He won't be the fastest player on the pitch and he doesn't possess the most fearsome shot, but he's a well-rounded midfielder that should become better over time and with EPL experience.
At 20, there's plenty of time for him to continue growing and that's why Liverpool decided to bring him in now instead of waiting. The club hopes he will eventually become a stalwart member of the roster, and he's got a good chance to reach that level.
Fans just shouldn't expect it to happen overnight.
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