Before the start of the season I made a bold prediction that Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho could go on to win the PFA Player of the Year award, in hindsight I should have been more realistic and just gone for the Young Player of the Year.
But his form in the second half of last season was so impressive that it was hard not to get excited over his talents for 2013-14. He has so far been superb again this season - his dummy for Daniel Sturridge’s goal against Aston Villa could only have been concocted in the football laboratory that is Rio de Janeiro.
But there was always one thing that could hinder his progress, as it can anyone’s in any season - injury.
And on Monday it happened.
Coutinho suffered a nasty shoulder injury against Swansea City in the 2-2 draw at the Liberty Stadium, which has required surgery. It is expected that the 21-year-old will miss six weeks of the season, keeping him out of action until the end of October.
But while this is obviously bad news at club level, Coutinho’s international aspirations have also taken a huge blow.
In August, ahead of the new season, the starlet spoke gushingly of his chances of playing for Brazil, on home soil, at the World Cup in 2014:
"Of course, it is a dream of mine. I need to have a good season at Liverpool, take my chances here and hopefully that would give me a chance of being called up for the national team," he said.
"It would be my biggest step in football and I will do my utmost to be there.’’
He has already played for Brazil, but that was almost three years ago against Iran in a friendly - he has not featured since.
But now he is a first-team regular in one of the world’s biggest clubs his chance was sure to come, despite the settled dynamic Luiz Felipe Scolari has brought to Selecao in recent months.
With friendly matches coming up against South Korea and Zambia next month - Coutinho might have just got his chance to impress. Now it seems he is going to have no chance of playing in these games.
With that in mind his chances of impressing Scolari are running out. Brazil currently have no friendlies scheduled until the World Cup next summer, although are likely to play some during the next block of international fixtures in March.
That would likely be Coutinho’s final chance at making an impact for his country - and to ensure his dream comes true this summer.
Do you think Coutinho can still make the Brazil team this summer?
image: © Dean Jones