Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has heaped praise on Philippe Coutinho, who has become an instant hit since coming into English football last January.
Coutinho is a very small player and many sceptics of the deal, including yours truly, thought that the Brazilian would fail to settle into Premier League football quickly, but he’s done just that.
Coutinho has provided two assists in Liverpool colours and bagged his first goal inside his first four matches for the club, which goes a long way to denting the myth that small players don’t settle quickly into English football.
Gerrard has talked about the moments of brilliance that he is capable of producing, regardless of his position on the field and the pressure he is placed under by the opposition.
It’s all going to show that the common perception of Premier League football in general is changing, with Liverpool a good case in point.
Brendan Rodgers deserves a lot of credit to sticking to his guns in his desire to make Coutinho a Liverpool player. The club could have easily gone after someone else who was bigger and stronger, but someone who may not have had the same touch and poise.
More and more Premier League sides are basing their teams around having smaller players present; Mata and Oscar at Chelsea, Wilshere at Arsenal, Kagawa at United and Sergio Aguero and David Silva at Manchester City.
Coutinho has also been very lucky that he is well protected in that Liverpool midfield by the experience of Gerrard and the strong midfield presence of a player like Lucas, who has the ability to stop the opposition from picking on him.
There is still an element of the long ball game and the physical side of the game in the Premier League with teams such as Stoke basing their entire reputation around that style of play.
However, the more successful teams are creating sides that are focused on having a player like Coutinho to setup top class strikers and create chances, which decide tight games.
Coutinho is only going to get better as his core strength improves and as his communication skills develop as he gets a better grasp of the English language.
Liverpool continue to from strength to strength and still have an outside chance of a Champions League place at the end of the season. The good news already is that they don’t have to go looking for that one player in the summer, who can create something out of nothing because they took a gamble in January and it’s paid off.
What do you make of Coutinho’s impact?
image: © Dean Jones