The Numbers That Show Coutinho Can Be a Liverpool Star
The impish creator has been a joy to watch ever since making his full Reds debut against Swansea City on February 11, with the skilful and exciting Brazil international clearly being the Merseysiders’ stand-out performer in the second half of the season.
And in the space of just a little over three months, the young playmaker has managed to rack up some eye-catching numbers that suggest Coutinho is already well on his way to becoming a Liverpool star.
Coutinho will have turned 21 by the start of next season, but that means he has at least another 10 years at the very top ahead of him. Reds fans pray that he spends the majority of the next decade continuing to light up Anfield with his vast array of skills.
What is more, it is quite scary to think that the Brazilian is still a good five years away from maturing into the peak years of his career. If he is this good at 20, just imagine what he will be like at 25.
Cost: £8.5 Million
No, that is not a typo. And yes, Liverpool did purchase one of the best players on display in the Premier League this year for less than half the £19.35m that Chelsea shelled out last July on fellow Brazil international midfield player Oscar.
It makes you wonder what Inter technical director Marco Branca and head coach Andrea Stramaccioni were thinking when they agreed to let Coutinho depart San Siro in January—and for such a miniscule transfer fee to boot.
Contract: Five-and-a-Half Years
These days, it is not often that players are signed on longer than four-year deals.
The fact that Liverpool have their multi-skilled playmaker tied to Anfield on a long-term contract until June 30 2018 will be of immense relief to both the club’s American owners, the Fenway Sports Group, and their fans, who will be desperate to see Coutinho in the red of Liverpool for a long time to come.
Seven assists in only 13 Premier League outings in 2013, which includes one appearance as a substitute in his top-flight debut against West Bromwich Albion at Anfield on February 11, are numbers that speak for themselves.
When one considers that the highest number of assists in the entire previous campaign was only 12—from Chelsea’s Juan Mata—it is some achievement for Coutinho to have created more than half as many goals as the Spaniard in less than half as many league fixtures.
Three goals may not seem like a good return from the Brazilian; however, one needs to remember that he was brought to Liverpool to create, not score, goals for others. On the rare occasions that Coutinho does manage to find the back of the net, it should really be regarded as a bonus.
In that regard, three top-flight strikes in just 13 league matches, 12 of those starts, are incredibly promising goalscoring numbers from the Reds playmaker. Spread out over the course of an entire Premier League season, that would equate to somewhere in the region of 10 strikes.
It may seem trivial that Coutinho did not pick up either a yellow or red card in any of the 13 matches in which he has appeared for Liverpool.
However, as the Reds have already found out with their other South American star, losing key attacking performers through sometimes needless suspensions can badly hurt a team’s momentum at critical times of the season.
That means that the club’s fans should be guaranteed as much time as possible watching their new Brazilian star in action going forward.
Points Per Game Since His Arrival: 2.1, Points Per Game Before His Arrival: 1.4
It is certainly no coincidence that Liverpool’s form has picked up markedly since Coutinho made his full Reds debut against Swansea in February.
In fact, were you to calculate how many points the Merseysiders would have picked up on a point-per-game ratio since the Brazilian made his full debut for the club, Brendan Rodgers’ side would have finished the last campaign as runners-up to champions Manchester United.
The Northern Irishman will be doing his utmost next season to keep his midfield creator fit and firing on all cylinders for the entire 2013/14 campaign.
Time Spent at Anfield so Far: Three Months
All of Coutinho’s eye-catching numbers must be assessed in the context of the relatively short period of time that the player has had to acclimatise at Anfield.
When a foreign import arrives in the Premier League, supporters are invariably told to give their new recruit time to get used to the peculiar demands of the English top flight, particularly its unique pace and power; However, that clearly is not the case with this 20-year-old.
That begs the question of just how good the playmaker will be when he has fully settled in England.
Shirt No.: 10
It seems fitting that Coutinho’s shirt number at Liverpool is 10, with the Brazil international following in the footsteps of previous Reds legends John Barnes, Michael Owen, Jan Molby, Terry McDermott, John Toshack and Tommy Smith, who all wore the same number on the back of their shirts.
It is fair to say that the diminutive attacking midfield player is already well on the way to emulating those former greats by becoming a Reds star.