BARCA CHASE COUTINHO AFTER NEYMAR SNUB
Liverpool faced Hoffenheim to get through the final round of UEFA Champions League qualifiers without the services of Phillipe Coutinho.
After an opening day Premier League clash with Marcos Silva’s Watford that ended with Britos equalizing for the Hornets at the dead end of the match, the Reds were under immense pressure to quickly get their defensive act together if they were to have the chance of participating in a tournament they toiled day and night to be part of last season.
Although a capable attack and just about solid-enough midfield hold sway at Anfield, the defensive frailties that masked their campaign last season remains evident. Not even the duo of Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren give Liverpool enough assurance at the back and the back-ups’ quality are nowhere near that of a squad with Premier League title ambition. Allowing the likes of Daniel Agger to leave appears as questionable as ever. At least the Dane would have been a capable back-up.
Lynchpin Coutinho still remained unavailable for the clash against the Bundesliga side as the clouds over his move to Barcelona remains un-cleared. Whilst many speculated he was not injured at all, the medics at Liverpool have confirmed he has a back issue. Before the match you could have got odds as high as 100/1 on sport.netbet.co.uk on Liverpool to win the Champions League, but after it they moved one step closer, and their odds narrowed to 50/1 on the final whistle.
The Blaugranas have been after the Brazilian’s signature since losing his compatriot to PSG earlier this month. Their abysmal display against rivals Real Madrid in the Spanish Supercopa has buffered their desperation to add quality depths to their shallow squad.
Signing yet another Brazilian, Paulinho shows an even greater measure of the said desperation as the 29-year old signing looks like a desperate add-on without much of a noticeable quality.
Liverpool did not insert a release clause in Coutinho’s contract but the Brazilian’s decision to hand in a transfer request on the eve of their game against Watford means keeping him around ala Diego-Costa-like might cost the Reds by the double: no cash at hand and no play time on pitch.
Thankfully, they didn't actually need him out on the pitch, as they overcame Hoffenheim to enter into the Group Stages of the Champions League, but Liverpool fans will be far from happy with the goings-on at Barca, and how their player's head has been turned.
We must admit, even when the media ravings built up the momentum of Neymar’s departure from Barcelona, it never felt like it was happening in real life till the Brazilian finally appeared next to the Eiffel Tower for some promo shots.
The Samba boy had it all really or so we thought. But being in at a top club, playing host to arguably the most divine player in history wasn't enough for him. After the contained in-house disagreements and public duties of pretending all was well, Barca's worst fears were stirred by the club’s twitter handle announcing that the 25-year old “did not train with the permission of the coach.”
Later they would release a press statement wishing him success in his endeavours. When people like Neymar depart at his prime the emotions then it must be a tough lesson for Barca fans to take - tThat’s the reason why no one can blame the Barca faithful when they get alarmed by their club’s official twitter page informing them that “Andres Iniesta did not train with the permission of the coach.”
The veteran has been at the club for 21 years and is one of the few players with unquestionable loyalty to their clubs in an era of paper chasing professionals and cut throat super agents.
Also given that they already lost Thiago Alcantara to Bayern Munich and have struggled to come up with a new generation of midfield wizards to replace the old guard, whoever is behind FC Barcelona’s twitter handle should come out and clarify this dreadful sentence that just last week confirmed PSG has been given the go ahead to whisk away the Catalan’s prized jewel.
Will Coutinho come to fill the gap?