Transfer news is dull. Really dull.
I know everyone feeds off it and it’s the sort of thing we’re looking for when searching for news about our favourite club but, let’s be honest, for the most part it’s a minefield of unbearable nonsense.
In no other area of the media would it be considered acceptable to publish some of the transfer rumours we see, some of which are shakily sourced and others a complete fabrication.
That’s what makes it so hard to trust any of it – and why I generally don’t care about anything I see unless it’s Liverpool Football Club introducing their latest new player.
One ‘story’ that’s been harder to ignore is the constant barrage of speculation surrounding the future of Philippe Coutinho.
In the three years since the Brazilian left Anfield for Barcelona, Liverpool have banked the full £142m from the deal and have gone on to domestic and European success, while the Catalan club are in the throes of a financial crisis.
And the player himself has seen his career trajectory fall off a cliff.
He was at the height of his powers in January 2018 – Liverpool’s star player who had produced the sort of performances in the previous few seasons to convince Barcelona to make him their record signing.
Coutinho has scored 22 times in the league in the three years since, eight of which came in the Bundesliga while on loan at Bayern Munich. While it would be unfair and untrue to suggest goals are all he brings, this is still not good enough for a player with his reputation and price tag.
He was at Camp Nou for 18 months before he was farmed out to Germany for a loan intended to help him get back to his best after a poor start to life in Spain.
That year with Bayern was probably his best spell since leaving Liverpool, and back in Catalonia this season he has played 14 times, yielding three goals and two assists.
Mitigating factors – this current Barcelona side is the worst we’ve seen for a long time, which won’t be helping him, and his lack of appearances this season go largely down to a long-term meniscus injury which ended his campaign prematurely in January.
And, of course, he really was superb in his time at Liverpool. He was the real star of the team, often playing in a side devoid of any genuine quality. He was the man capable of producing that special moment to win the game or to secure progress to the next round.
I can see why the idea of bringing Coutinho “home” is appealing, especially for the reported £35m fee with Barcelona seemingly happy to cut their losses and desperate for the cash.
As well as the romantic element, there is also the idea that the Brazilian could be the creative midfielder who regularly contributes goals and assists that the Reds have been missing since… well, Coutinho left.Embed from Getty Images
But while there’s no doubt that’s what he has been in the past, it’s not as simple as putting that type of player into this Liverpool side and expecting all the attacking problems we’ve seen this season simply vanish.
While a more creative source from midfield can’t be a bad thing, the Reds won’t suddenly be able to break down teams playing with a low block with ease. It isn’t a new problem. It’s something Liverpool have struggled with more or less for as long as I can remember.
Amid Liverpool’s issues this season and Coutinho’s reported availability, it’s no surprise to see heavy links tipping the Brazilian to return to Anfield.
But while he was a terrific player in his first spell on Merseyside, there is a danger that we’ve put him on a bit of a pedestal. Plus, he will be 29 in the summer, and at an age where his best days will be coming to an end.
And let’s not forget the financial aspect. The supposed £35m is a good deal in terms of transfer fee, no doubt, but his agent Kia Joorabchian has hinted that his client would be unwilling to take a pay cut.
There is simply no way Liverpool will break their wage structure for anyone, especially not for a player who wouldn’t necessarily be a guaranteed starter.
It’s a nice thought – but it’s not likely to happen. And even if it did, don’t expect Coutinho to be the solution to all Liverpool’s attacking issues.
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