Raheem Sterling & Philippe Coutinho Will Fill the Luis Suarez Void at Liverpool
It was supposed to be the summer in which Liverpool, finally, established themselves as a European heavyweight once again, but instead the news dogging the club was to their detriment still.
Despite securing second place in the Premier League, narrowly missing the title itself and restoring UEFA Champions League nights to Anfield after four long years, all anyone could talk about was Luis Suarez.
Not the incredible goalscoring exploits of a team who plundered 101 from 38 games, nor the positive impact such great cohesion could have on an England side in need of help at the FIFA World Cup 2014. It was all still about the troublesome Uruguayan.
Suarez’s conduct in Brazil was appalling in isolation, but when you factor in that it’s his third offense of the same nature, the final straws with which you defend him become decidedly harder to grasp.
The Uruguayan’s £75 million move to Barcelona removed a cloud of contention over Anfield regarding Liverpool’s star player, but in its place fell another: How do you replace arguably the third-best player in the world, behind only Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo?
The answer, it seems, is not in like-for-like fashion.
Brendan Rodgers has not gone out and signed an equivalent. That could be because there wasn’t one attainable—as good as Alexis Sanchez is and as true as their interest was, he’s no Suarez—but the policy was always to add depth and quality whilst continuing to nurture what’s already there.
Instead, Rodgers will have looked to his ranks and seen two incredible players already on the books, and their names are Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho.
|League only||Games||Key Passes pg||Total Assists||Long Passes pg||Dribbles pg|
The former’s emergence last season gave Liverpool the boost they needed to continue a title challenge late on into the season, and it’s even arguable he was their best overall player across the final six weeks of the campaign.
The latter enters his third season as a Red, and while his sophomore season may not have hit the heights expected, pre-season indications are that he’s about to set the league on fire.
Coutinho’s style of play in the final third hasn’t changed a lot since leaving Internazionale. In Italy he was accused, at times, of trying too hard and playing in too risky a fashion; where the through-balls and flicks weren’t coming off for him at the San Siro, they’ve started to in emphatic fashion here.
His flicked assist for Daniel Sturridge against Borussia Dortmund has Liverpool fans ogling the 22-year-old Brazilian; they enjoyed it even more than Coutinho’s incredible disallowed goal in the dying seconds against Manchester City this summer.
Inter ran out of patience with Coutinho’s reckless passing and signed Mateo Kovacic from Dinamo Zagreb instead. Sold for just £8 million, Rodgers will have been struggling to keep from grinning ear to ear.
The two appear undroppable no matter the formation Rodgers is set to use this year, and the summer acquisitions of Adam Lallana, Emre Can and Lazar Markovic are going to have to wait in line.
The link-up play generated involving Daniel Sturridge is to die for, and as an attacking trident, look set to relieve the pressure on Steven Gerrard’s shoulders and phase the focus away from the converted regista.
Rather than plump for a Marco Reus, an Alexis or an Ezequiel Lavezzi, Rodgers has persevered and opted to do what he does best: Coach his excellent young prospects and trust they can fill the gaps.
Sterling and Coutinho will fill the void.
Written by: Sam Tighe – Scouts Take
Join the uMAXit Football Revolution by clicking here