Philippe Coutinho, Liverpool’s Player of the Season last year and third top goalscorer in the league with eight goals, is undoubtedly a fantastic player.
He has the skill, creativity, and footballing intelligence to be a real top player for club and country in future, if he isn’t already. Yes, you can say more goals are needed from the Brazilian, but overall, he's still one of the most exciting players in the Premier League.
However, there is a way Liverpool can get more out of their star player, and that's by tweaking his position.
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It could be an effective move, especially with Liverpool having strength in depth in forward areas, and perhaps being a little light in central midfield, especially if Joe Allen or Lucas Leiva were to depart.
Last year he was deployed predominantly off the left, but Coutinho has played as part of a midfield trio before, at his best on the left or at the tip of a diamond during the 2013/14 season.
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Allowing Coutinho to move deeper makes the most of his key strengths: his vision and ability to pick a pass. It means he has more space in front of him to exploit.
Last season he was deployed almost as a winger, playing from the left, with Adam Lallana on the right, and Roberto Firmino in the middle, either alongside or instead of Daniel Sturridge.
He was effective, but playing him wide limits the damage he can do. Most coaches will say that you should play your best players down the middle, and doing so means he has 360° to work with, not 180°. He lacks the pace needed to play wide, but has all the attributes necessary to be a success further inside.
As well as making Coutinho more effective himself, moving him deeper makes the most of other players, like Sturridge, who can run in behind knowing that the pass will find the target. Players like Emre Can and Jordan Henderson are effective but lack the quality to play balls in the same way Coutinho can, or even Steven Gerrard did before now.
Coutinho will never be another Steven Gerrard, but could replace that particular element of his game. It also accommodates Sadio Mane in his preferred slot off the left without displacing Firmino, who was one of Liverpool's stand-out players last season.
Jurgen Klopp likes tall, energetic, and strong midfielders in his teams, so Coutinho does not fit the mould, but there is no reason why he could not work alongside two other players, like Can and Henderson, who are bigger, more box-to-box players, to make up for his lack of power.
It makes sense to get the best out of such a talent, and if changing the style of the midfield slightly makes this happen, then it should not be too big of an issue.
If Coutinho was to change position, it would mean less focus on his goal tallies, and more focus on his actual performances and how he effects matches.
Players like Mane, Firmino, and Sturridge will all score more than Coutinho in all likelihood on the evidence of the last few seasons, and so they are more suitable for the forward positions.
Coutinho is a great player to watch, and will continue to be that regardless of his position, but altering his role could potentially bring huge benefits.
The change would not only benefit the player himself, but also the team as a whole. Pre-season provides a chance to experiment, and it could be a worthwhile experiment to try.
Should Philippe Coutinho change position? Leave us YOUR thoughts in the comment section below!
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