In the world of international soccer, there is a saying that when you’re bored of Brazilian No. 10s, you’re bored of life.
While saying that the green and yellow No. 10 is the most idolized number in sports is sure to spark debate, it is hard to argue the legacy that has been passed down by the wearers of that specific shirt.
There was Pele, who won three World Cups with the number on his back while inspiring generations of players all over the world. There was Zico, whose 1982 Brazil squad is widely recognized as one of the best in the history of the game. There was Rivaldo, who was instrumental in Brazil’s 2002 World Cup triumph. In more modern years, the No. 10 shirt has been represented by Kaka, who was recognized as the world’s best player in 2007.
Fortunately for those that call Liverpool home, the Reds have found themselves their own No. 10, as Philippe Coutinho has amazed with his ability to unite those both Samba and Scouse.
Coutinho is one of the best young talents in the Premier League, as the 21-year-old prodigy has become an integral cog in the Liverpool attack since his arrival from Inter this past January.
Naturally, Coutinho has received plenty of praise from peers and pundits. Such admiration is to be expected when one performs as he has at the highest level.
With the ball, Coutinho’s passes are like Ronaldinho’s. His passes are good, man. He doesn’t move a lot. But his passing! You think he is going to pass here and he passes there instead. He does the same as Ronaldinho. You think he’s going to do one thing, and he does something completely different. He changes. Ronaldinho was the best player, but I think their style is similar. I’m happy for him. He is young but he starts good at Liverpool. It is difficult to do that at Liverpool.
Now, Coutinho is certainly deserving of praise, as his vision and passing ability completely transforms Liverpool’s attack.
However, comparing him to the legendary Ronaldinho may be a bit premature. Despite Coutinho’s heroics, he is still only 21. He has only truly played at a high level since January, and his international experience is lacking to say the least, as the young Brazilian has only featured once for the Selecao.
Sandro continued to heap praise upon his compatriot ahead of this weekend’s clash, as the Spurs midfielder discussed how Coutinho is just as important to Liverpool’s attack as superstar Luis Suarez:
Suarez is a great footballer and in a great spell of form. He has scored a lot of goals but we are going to push to hold him and stop him. We know he can score wherever he is on the pitch. He can do something out of nothing. But it is not just him. When Coutinho plays, he has a good pass on him and he is an intelligent guy.
Finally, Sandro discussed his Spurs’ plans to stop Coutinho, as Sandro himself will have a part to play if Coutinho’s impact is to be minimized:
It will be me or Etienne Capoue who will try to stop Coutinho. For me, I don’t think a lot before the game. Just when I am there, I want to stop him, stop his freedom. If midfielders have freedom they can do something to hurt you. I want to be close to him. And tackle him.
While Sandro’s comparisons may be a bit hasty, his concern about Coutinho’s game is valid. Coutinho is brilliant, talented and, most importantly, ever-improving.
However, Coutinho shouldn’t worry about being the next Ronaldinho, Kaka or Pele, as being the one and only Coutinho is the perfect demonstration of just how impossible it is to lose excitement for the almighty Brazilian 10.
Does Coutinho have what it takes to represent No. 10 at the international level? Have your say with a comment below or tweet @R_Tolmich with your opinion!