Liverpool will almost definitely still win the Premier League this season, but the last few weeks have shown just the slightest signs of weakness in Jurgen Klopp’s squad.
Of course, a loss like the one at Watford was always going to come eventually, but perhaps more alarming should be the manner of the performance in that game.
On top of that, the 1-0 defeat away to Atletico Madrid means retaining the Champions League now looks a much harder task for a team that should quite rightly still regard itself as the best in Europe at the moment.
If there’s one area that has looked a concern for the Reds for some time now, it’s that lack of creativity in midfield. That isn’t to criticise the stellar performances of the likes of Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum, who provide a solid spine in that area that allow the creativity to flourish from full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson, but as teams start to work Liverpool out, they could do with something a little different in some games.
LFC fans perhaps won’t take too kindly to this suggestion, but there is surely still room in this side for Philippe Coutinho, who was never really replaced since his 2018 transfer to Barcelona.
Most supporters will rightly argue that he hasn’t really needed replacing, but that’s only true to a point; Naby Keita was presumably signed with that intention, but it just hasn’t worked out at all for the Guinea international, save for a few flashes of quality here and there. Much as Coutinho has undoubtedly flopped at Barca, he provided much more in terms of both flair and genuine end-product to this club than Keita has at any point.
The Brazil international’s future is likely to be under the microscope again this summer, with a recent report from the Express claiming his asking price had been slashed to just £77million.
Now, that’s clearly still a lot of money for Liverpool, but given how much they sold him for, they perhaps shouldn’t balk at paying a fraction of that price to bring him back for a second spell.
Coutinho’s struggles since leaving Liverpool perhaps shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise – the big-money transfer fee always adds pressure, Barcelona are not what they once were and didn’t exactly seem to have a plan for how best to use him anyway, while his loan at Bayern Munich now also looks like being a failure as his confidence hits an all-time low.
Still, we’ve seen what Jurgen Klopp can do to lift players – so many of this Liverpool side have improved hugely under the German tactician’s guidance, and there’s no reason Coutinho can’t also revive his career back at a club where he clearly felt good, confident, and at home – qualities all too often dismissed in terms of their importance to how footballers perform.
In truth, Coutinho may need LFC more than they need him right now, but links with the likes of Jadon Sancho (via the Mail) and Kai Havertz (via Bild, as translated by the Daily Star) do suggest Klopp recognises that he needs something of a Plan B in attacking midfield. The Express even suggest the Reds boss would not rule out re-signing Coutinho for that role.
Many will scoff at the idea, but we think it could be one surprise transfer to watch out for this summer.