Coutinho's performances underline why it was never really a case of Firmino, the one that got away

The little Brazilian is developing into an influential figure in the Liverpool first-team.

Philippe Coutinho's goal against Tottenham was only his fourth of the season, yet it represented much more than that underwhelming statistic. It was in effect just reward for some very good performances from the Brazilian in the last few weeks.

His last goal came away at Fulham, in what was Liverpool's third of the game. Yesterday he repeated the trick, scoring the Reds' third again.

They say 2-0 is the most dangerous scoreline in football, so for the 21-year-old to net his side's third twice in the space of a couple of months is tantamount to Coutinho's growing importance.

He is making a contribution at the right times by killing teams off and maintaining Liverpool's in-game momentum.

A third goal against Sunderland, before they pulled one back, would have put the game to bed and made Anfield a less nervous place towards the end. So Coutinho's goal value cannot be underestimated when assessing, for example, how Liverpool have reached the summit of the Premier League.

Yes he needs to score more from attacking midfield to take the burden off Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez, but his overall play is making it hard for manager Brendan Rodgers to leave him out of the team.

The former Inter Milan player's form should put into perspective the news that Hoffenheim midfielder Roberto Firmino, a player long linked with Liverpool, decided to sign a new contract at the Rhein-Neckar Arena.

If Liverpool had really wanted Firmino then surely they would have tried to prevent a situation developing where the price on his head would increase.

But no, in reality Coutinho is Liverpool's number 10 for years to come and so Firmino was probably never a serious target. The boy from Rio and Vasco da Gama youth product is now truly beginning to demonstrate just why.

Does Philippe Coutinho's rise to prominence in Liverpool's team explain their lack of pursuit in signing Roberto Firmino? 

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