Could Philippe Coutinho be the best player in the Premier League this season?
I am a bit of a punter when it comes to making pretty wild predictions about football. But my bet with a group of friends, 18 months ago, that Belgium could win next summer’s World Cup is not looking so stupid now. Meanwhile, Burkina Faso almost pulled it through for me at the African Nations Cup at the start of the year.
So I have been sticking my head on the line recently - firstly suggesting that Fiorentina could win Serie A next season - before claiming Gary Hooper could be in the England squad for next summer’s World Cup.
Now while I assess the sanity of those previous wild assertions - I line up another.
Could Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho be this seasons Gareth Bale?
Of the three predictions I have gone with so far this is the most reckless I admit. The competition for such an award is fierce and if Gareth Bale stays a Spurs player, and plays anything like he did last season, the award will be his.
If Luis Suarez moves to Arsenal he might just be catapulted into super stardom - while the likes of Robin Van Persie, Vincent Kompany, Juan Mata and others will also have something to say about it.
But hear me out.
First of all, Bale could be a Real Madrid player by then. Secondly the award usually goes to attacking players - meaning Coutinho fits the bill.
Then there is the player himself - who has looked absolutely superb during his time at Anfield.
Since his arrival, from Inter Milan in January, he has taken the league by storm and he has not shown any form of stopping that streak in pre-season.
He has been banging in the goals, and been generally imperious throughout Liverpool’s warm-up for the 2013-14 campaign.
Sitting just behind the front-man - with his deft touch, exquisite poise and eye for an incisive pass there is little doubt Coutinho will be one of Liverpool’s star performers this season.
But, even though I myself am an Everton fan and it pains me to utter these words, I think Liverpool are in the hunt for a top four position this season - with one or two more quality additions.
And if Coutinho is the man to lead them over that precipice, I am sure he will certainly be in the running for the top gong at the end of the campaign.
But for once, this Evertonian will happily eat humble pie.
How good a season can Philippe Coutinho have for Liverpool in 2013-14?
image: © Dean Jones