Philipe Coutinho has landed in Birmingham with an amulet that Leo Messi gave him when both coincided in the Barca dressing room. A journalist gave the Argentine star a bracelet after missing a penalty against Iceland in the 2018 World Cup, and it had the desired effect. Messi scored a fantastic goal in the momentous 2-1 win over Nigeria, he was tasked with opening the can. Something to get through the group stage. Coutinho received Leo Messi’s lucky bracelet, and has been wearing it ever since. Even when the Catalans were measured against Bayern in the quarterfinals of the 2019/20 Champions League.
His good campaigns at Espanyol and Inter Milan earned Anfield a ticket. An unknown player for the great English public. Brazilian and tremendously technical. It arrived in January 2013, with the course already started. Liverpool had just won the League Cup and fell in the FA Cup the previous season, although still far from contesting the league title against both Manchester and Chelsea. Coutinho would assume the role of taking the team one step further. With 10 and the team behind him, the player dazzled his new fans. He made his debut marking Swansea City. Reaching the front, feigning and deceiving the goalkeeper. A fantastic cover letter.
Ball stuck to the foot. To the right or to the left, Coutinho did not care. He dodged rivals as if it were easy. As if he’s been sneaking out of constant ambushes his whole life. There was no small space for him. Starting from the inside position, close to the band. Finding gaps and finding partners, or directly looking for shooting position. Unpredictable Able to arm the leg from long distance or to withstand rival lunges on their way to the area.
He starred in iconic moments, indelible in the memory network. Like his goal against Manchester City in 2013/14. In a direct duel for the Premier League title, Coutinho struck the final blow. The Little Wizard, as he is known at Anfield, caught a fumble in the box after a mistake by Vincent Kompany to clinch the last-gasp victory. Liverpool were safe on their way to their first Premier League title, but Steven Gerrard’s slip against Chelsea prevented the feat. Brendan Rodgers’ team sniffed the title, but couldn’t sink his teeth into it.
Luis Suárez left at the end of that campaign to Barcelona. Then the figure of Coutinho grew in the dressing room, his importance grew. And also his number of goals and assists. He dazzled locals and strangers. His record of twelve goals and seven passes in the 2015/16 campaign was improved a year later. He led his team to the final of the Europa League, the first of two continental setbacks the Brazilian suffered with Liverpool. His team fell to Sevilla in Basel, and two years later they found Spanish opposition again in a European final. And they lost again. This time, against Real Madrid in the Champions League. A blow too hard. Rumors then appeared about a possible transfer to Barcelona, which ended up being confirmed in the 2018 winter market.
“We tried everything to make him stay,” explained Jürgen Klopp in an interview with Sky Sports days after Philippe Coutinho left Camp Nou. “I would not have left Liverpool for any other team. He was convinced that he wanted to go to Barcelona, and we found ourselves in a difficult situation and we had to look out for our own interests ”. The scouses did a good business, and with the money they raised from the sale of the Brazilian they signed some key pieces that have helped them make up for themselves in the Champions League, and win the club’s first league in thirty years: Virgil van Dijk, Alisson , Naby Keïta, Fabinho …
Gerrard has faith in him
He went to Barcelona to win the Champions League, and his former team won it. He left on loan to Bayern Munich, and then he did succeed… scoring two goals against Barcelona. It did not go well for Coutinho at the Camp Nou. He had four different coaches, he lost key companions and the culé entity began to redefine its identity in the middle of a complex financial situation. Philippe is now returning to the Premier League. He is hired by someone who shared a dressing room and midfield with him during his most brilliant stage, that of Anfield. Steven Gerrard is counting on the Brazilian to bring Aston Villa, the 1982 European champion, closer to the top half of the table. Despite failing to live up to expectations at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, the Brazilian has faith in his once-captain. And under the gaze of a league, the Premier, in which it has little to prove.