So it’s real, Philip Coutinho, the one we’ve come to know as the Little Brazilian Magician, has officially handed in a transfer request — right before the first game of the season against Watford but more importantly, a couple of days before the first-leg of the Champion’s League final qualifier with Hoffenheim. Just a shocking state of affairs.
In what began as an off-season of potential and hope, confirmed by news print speculation from the Liverpool Echo announcing this could be one of the biggest summer spending sprees in club history — we’re edging from improvement and closer to disappointment. This was the summer where Klopp would finally be able to stamp his identity upon the squad, while strengthening for the rigors of the impending Champion’s League. But we’ve done little to strengthen or deepen the squad (with quality). All those aspirations seem to be slipping away at a rather alarming pace but for those not keeping track, why don’t we remind ourselves of the hiccups.
We tried but thus far have failed to sign a rock solid center back named, Virgil Van Dijk — a position which is much needed. We tried and completely failed to sign a high-potential, box-to-box, midfield player named, Naby Keita — a position which needs quality. Due to the unique rigors of Klopp preseason prep, we have a handful of players suffering from injuries, including the much loved Adam Lallana who will be gone three to four months with a thigh tear. And the final straw, our best player, Philipe Coutinho, wants to leave Liverpool for Barcelona. (Honestly, who could blame him but goodness, the timing is horrific.)
For good measure, all of these troubling issues were highlighted during the first game of the Premier League season against Watford. In an uninspiring display, Liverpool took a long time to get up to speed in the game, only managing a 3–3 tie at the closing whistle. The defense looked suspect while the midfield could only be described as average.
Remove Coutinho from the squad and we’re looking like a team which could score plenty but struggle to keep a lead. That defensive frailty could be exposed especially in light of how the other top teams have strengthened during the summer. The likes of Morata, Lacazette, and Lukaku arriving at new clubs looking to cause mayhem in the opposition’s box.
I grow concerned. I thought Klopp would be the difference maker, the guy who could bring glory back to the club. His personality, demeanor, and excitement for the club are evident but if this summer transfer window closes with a whimper instead of a bang — while we lose the quality in Coutinho, then this could be a long and frustrating season.