Amidst the stream of apocalyptic headlines and social media rants over the sale of Coutinho to Barcelona; a burley bespectacled German, largely responsible for the bellyaching, was gamely fighting back a sheepish grin(we bet). Jurgen Klopp is so much closer to his vision.
The decision to pull the trigger on the sale was brilliant business – if you keep an open mind and more importantly look at the details.
So what could possibly justify a club selling its most talented player?
TALENT DOESN’T ALWAYS TRANSLATE TO SUCCESS
Some media outlets have started to identify a not so curious statistic. Liverpool have feared no worse or better without Coutinho for the extent of his stay at Anfield.
|Liverpool with and without Coutinho since 13-02-2013|
|With Coutinho starting||Premier League||Without Coutinho starting|
|1.9||Points per game||1.8|
There are some tangible reasons that COULD explain this trend. Maybe his dominance and successive pirouettes on the ball to the detriment of teamplay, OR could it be his tendency to fire from long range when faced with a low bank of defenders OR his lack of fight to win balls in the centre of park. The point here is that for all his brilliance his few imperfections are clear – which leads us to our next point.
SUBSTANCE BEATS STYLE FOR KLOPP
“It’s not about playing a style from the sky or whatever, we really have to work and get results. That’s all we need.”
Jurgen Klopp, January 8, 2016, Liverpool fc.com
In an interview about handling the busy Christmas period and the Merseyside derby we thought this a curious injection. Was it a message to the fans or his squad or a revelation of his worldview? Maybe all 3.
As we alluded to earlier, Coutinho’s style arguably more fits his destination club than Klopp’s gritty counterattacking style. So why continue to force a round peg to a square hole?
In distinct contrast, Naby Keita and the German war machine Leon Goretzka fit to Klopp’s pressing and transition schemes like a glove. Each player is a diligent, intelligent tackler ahead of the defense, posessing a burst of acceleration to the opponents box and a complete array of penetrative passing into forward areas. Check them out if unfamiliar.
If Klopp can somehow convince the German to resist Bayern Munich’s advances – Liverpool would boast a midfield to match any in the world – Jordan Henerson’s sideways passing and headless chicken displays withstanding.
So with that in mind could the various areas of the side to be improved be ignored?
WHEN THE MANNA FALLS FROM HEAVEN OPEN WIDE!
Consider you’re a traditionally run club of decent size with multiple areas of the squad in need of upgrade. You’re still limited to legitimate revenues from the gate proceeds and overpriced club teacups and useless trinkets to compete in the transfer wars. How do you keep up?
Do you adopt the Man City model? Pimping out club control to a bored Saudi oil prince? Do you take the Wenger/Serie A approach? – stubbornly sacrificing investment for noble or necessary developmental projects ? That wouldn’t work in 2008 furthermore 2018.
Very simple. You take the third route and grab the best of both worlds! When you strike that jackpot i.e. one of the “oiligarch clubs” is bitterly desperate for one of your assets you MUST gouge them for an amount sufficiently absurd to change the trajectory of your club for years to come. It is simply the winning lotto ticket you can not afford to throw away.
For the extremely modest contribution of €225M from PSG to take Neymar to France, Barcelona turned that into Ousmane Dembele and Coutinho. 2 fantastic players for 1.
In turn for Liverpool, the likely £136M in recouped funds for Coutinho has already netted Virgil Van Dijk at £70M with Naby Keita at £55M to come in the summer. 2 transformational players replace 1; without spending a dime.
This allow the club to further recruit a goalkeeper as already strongly linked to Roma’s brilliant stopper Alisson, who is keeping Ederson out of the Brazilian shirt. Christain Pulisic and Timo Werner could certainly follow with the warchest available.
And we rest our case on exactly that point – availability.
COUTINHO IS ON PART TIME HOURS
Imagine your coworker was a stellar performer but like clockwork missed one day in the office each week – would the word used for that employee be irreplaceable or would they still have a job frankly?
Well Coutinho certainly dazzles when he clocks in but his attendance record is horrendous!
Games started in the Premier league in recent seasons:
2016 – 28
2015 – 24
2014 – 32
2013 – 28
That is an average of 28 games played each season out of a possible 38 games – the guy misses work 25% of the time! Holy &^%$!
It hardly surprises us then Barcelona have just learnt, through his medical, that their prized asset is already crocked and taking 3 weeks off work before he even kicks a ball in the Noucamp.
So in conclusion, a strong case can be made for Liverpool’s decision! Critics have described the Anfield hierarchy as “brainless” and “gutless“. As a matter of fact, a careful examination shows not only guts but a world of brains to boot – but they have to aggressively execute the next phase of Klopp’s vision.