John Aldridge predicts what will happen next for Philippe Coutinho at Liverpool after transfer saga
Liverpool goal-scoring great John Aldridge believes Philippe Coutinho may have to get used to being a high profile reserve team player as he prepares to return to action in the Premier League this weekend.
Coutinho handed in a transfer request last month as he tried to force through a move to Barcelona, but Liverpool refused to do business over their Brazilian No.10, despite a succession of big money bids.
Now Aldridge is backing Coutinho to refocus on Liverpool’s ambitions for this season, but he suspects he will not be handed an instant return to first team action by boss Jurgen Klopp after missing the first month of the season with a ‘back injury’.
"I have no problem with Coutinho still being at the club and so long as he gets back to work and puts in performances we know he is capable of, the fans will get behind him again," believes Aldridge.
"Of course he fancied a move to Barcelona, that was only natural, but Liverpool said they wouldn’t sell him and they had to stand by that decision.
"Now Klopp has to decide what he does with him from here and whether he throws him straight back into the team against Manchester City on Saturday.
"He has not played too much football in recent weeks with the ‘back injury’ that was, in reality, part of his masterplan to force through a move to Barcelona.
"It means that Coutinho may need some time to get himself up to full match sharpness and the reality may be that he doesn’t get into this Liverpool team at the moment anyway.
"You would not change too much from what was a sparkling performance against Arsenal and that may mean Coutinho and new-arrival Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will have to be patient to force their way into the line-up."
Aldridge believes Liverpool are the most exciting team to watch in the Premier League, but he suggests there may be weaknesses in their set-up that could undermine a title challenge.
"The 4-0 demolition of Arsenal a couple of weeks back confirmed once again that this Klopp’s team are the best to watch in the Premier League when they are firing on all cylinders," he adds.
"Okay, so we know Liverpool still have problems in key areas that were not addressed in the transfer window, but the basis of a title challenging team is there so long as the key men stay fit.
"Every team of winners has a good balance and a front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah appeared to be the perfect combination against Arsenal.
"They had pace, intelligent movement, finishing power and a threat that will frighten any team, so long as they don’t have ten men behind the ball and are playing for a 0-0 draw.
"I would still be concerned that Liverpool will struggle to break down teams that deny them the space they need to display their attacking brilliance and the defensive issues were not addressed in the transfer window."