Liverpool have finally completed the signing of Philippe Coutinho from Inter Milan for a fee believed to be in the region of £8.5 million. The 20-year-old was granted a work permit after a brief hearing on Tuesday and he has now signed on the dotted line at Anfield.
But what exactly are they paying for?
The word that immediately comes to mind is talent; and Coutinho certainly has that in abundance. The 20-year-old has all the close control and dribbling capabilities to make him a star; it was these skills that led to him being dubbed the ‘future of Inter Milan’ by one time manager of interested clubs Rafa Benitez.
Yet while he had an explosively impressive loan spell at Espanyol last season at Inter it has failed to click. He is inconsistent and only ever shows glimpses of what he is capable of. That was a testament echoed by Inter Milan expert Andrea Ramazzotti who stated:
"Coutinho played very well when he was on loan at Espanyol last season and started well for Inter this season, but they were only brief spells really. For the rest of the time, he just showed flashes of his potential and I fear the way of playing in England, which can be very physical, will not suit him because he has a slight frame."
That then is where the fear lies for Liverpool fans and Brendan Rodgers as this sort of thing has been said before. When Nuri Sahin arrived on a loan deal at Anfield at the start of the season it was celebrated as a coup. A naturally gifted player who had struggled to produce his best on a consistent basis Liverpool had beaten Arsenal to his signature. Six months on and Liverpool had given up on the Turkey international who returned to Real Madrid; and subsequently went back to his first club Borussia Dortmund.
The risk on that deal however was small; a loan deal can be cancelled and the financial implications are not severe but on this occasion Rodgers and co have convinced FSG to plunge £8.5 million at what is a massive gamble. The roll of the dice is on a 20-year-old frail Brazilian’s talent shining through in the passing, technical style in action at Liverpool under the former Swansea boss.
If the gamble doesn’t pay off then Liverpool will just have another Nuri Sahin on their hands; but this one will be harder to get rid of.
Will Coutinho be a success for Liverpool? We hope so but what do you think?
image: © peterfuchs