12 Aug 2015

Coutinho vs. £70m 'superstar': Who's better for Liverpool? 54% of fans choose the Brazilian

Last week, Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge categorically denied that Liverpool are in the running to sign £70m-rated superstar Thomas Muller. Hardly surprising, but if it was down to me, I'd swap Muller for any of Liverpool's attacking players, including Philippe Coutinho, who just isn't in the German's league when it comes to end product. Do fans support Muller coming in to replace the Brazilian at some point?

I recently conducted a poll asking fans who they'd rather have at Anfield. The results:

The majority of participants prefer to have Coutinho at Anfield, and that's fine, but in my view, it shows that fans are prioritising the individual over the club.

* I'm a huge fan of Coutinho, but Muller is on a totally different planet, especially when it comes to creative contribution. Just check out his stats over the last 5 years:

- 2014-15: 39 goals/assists in 48 apps.

- 2013-14: 41 goals/assists in 51 apps.

- 2012-13: 40 goals/assists in 47 apps.

- 2011-12: 31 goals/assists in 53 apps.

- 2010-11: 38 goals/assists in 48 apps.

- 10 goals in 13 World Cup games.

* Coutinho is 23, and he's never scored more than 8 goals in one season for Liverpool, and his personal best is comparatively meagre 13 goals/assists in one season. At the same age, Miller contributed an insane number of goals/assists, including 38 at the age of 20.

* Given his history, and the comparable quality/physicality of the Bundesliga, it's highly probable that Muller is capable of achieving similar goals/assists levels in the Premier League. Transpose that contribution to Liverpool, and it's clear he'd be a major asset for the club.

* Coutinho is more skillful and exciting to watch than Muller, but when it comes to end product, there's simply no comparison.

Muller is a phenomenon, and with him in the team, Liverpool's chances of finishing in the top four increase exponentially. After all, as the Reds discovered in 2013-14, masses of goals/assists = positive progression.

To me, the most important thing is end product. If a striker/attacking player is doing their job consistently (like Muller, for example) I personally couldn't care less about running, tracking back, tackling etc.

An attacking player's primary role is to score and create goals. End of story. Let the midfielders do all the extra running and donkey work. That doesn't mean relinquishing responsibility for tracking back, but there should be a plan in place to compensate.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a prime example. He doesn't run around like a headless chicken trying to track back all match long, but who cares - he consistently does the business, and that's all that matters.

In my view, endless defensive responsibility is part of the reason for Coutinho's average end product. Rodgers expects him to continuously track back, tackle, defend etc, and run himself into the ground 'pressing' the play. In theory, that sounds great, but what's the point if he's too knackered to fulfill his main role?

Like Muller, Ibrahimovic, Messi, Ronaldo et al, Coutinho should be left to concentrate on hurting the opposition, and that should be prioritised above everything else.

Will Coutinho ever reach Muller's level of end product, though? I can't see it. Even if the Brazilian improves incrementally each season, I can't ever seem him contributing 40 goals/assists in a single season.

That's okay, though. 20 goals/assists in all competitions is a fair expectation, and that's what I expect of Coutinho this season.

Author: Jaimie K


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