Ashton was tasked with providing Liverpool’s half-season report for the Premier League’s official website and among the questions posed was his opinion on the club’s best player thus far.
With little hesitation, the former striker named the Brazilian, saying: “Liverpool’s best player, a bit like last season, is Philippe Coutinho. I think he brings that spark to Liverpool that Suarez did have.
“I think Coutinho needs to have a bit more consistency to them spark, but I think he will do. He’s coming on year after year and he’s the main man for Liverpool.”
Following the departure of Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard, coupled with Daniel Sturridge’s injury layoff, the burden has fallen on Coutinho to become the club’s standout player.
Despite not being a prolific goal-scorer from midfield, the Brazil international is involved in almost all of Liverpool’s good attacking play and is widely regarded as one of the league’s best play-makers.
The 23-year-old has scored five and added a further three assists in 17 Premier League matches this season, having a hand in eight of the Reds’ overall 22 league goals.
Manager Jurgen Klopp will be desperate for his star man to become an even more predominant figure at Anfield, although a failure to secure European football will inevitably lead to speculation over his future.