Saturday 17 March 2018

Ronnie Whelan: I'm still not convinced by Philippe Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho celebrates after scoring against Southampton at St Mary's Stadium.
Philippe Coutinho celebrates after scoring against Southampton at St Mary's Stadium. Newsdesk Newsdesk

Former Liverpool player Ronnie Whelan believes that Philippe Coutinho still has a lot to prove despite an eye-catching goal against Southampton at St Mary's yesterday.

Whelan admitted that the swash-buckling goal is something the Brazilian has demonstrated on a number of occasions, but says his inconsistency is preventing him from kicking on to better things at Anfield.

Without being at their best, Brendan Rodgers' side left the south coast with all three points thanks to goals from Coutinho and Raheem Sterling, but Whelan says the praise for the Brazilian international could be a little over-the-top.

"I would be wary about the current canonisation of Philippe Coutinho," he wrote in his column in The Herald.

"I would be more than a bit concerned with the move to make Coutinho the man who is going to save Liverpool as some, including Rodgers, seem to believe.

"Coutinho is gifted with some fabulous skills and he is developing a handy habit of whacking important goals in from distance and grabbing a lot of headlines as a result.

"But I'm not fully sold on this lad. At least not yet. There is room for improvement but I don't see him as a Toni Kroos or a Luka Modric as Rodgers suggested he could be.

"My problem with Coutinho begins and ends with his inconsistency and the amount of times he gives away possession when he reaches the final third."

Read more: Vine: What a strike - Philippe Coutinho's stunning finish against Southampton

Whelan added that he cannot see how Rodgers could possible build his team around 22 year-old with his inability to keep possession in the vital areas of the pitch.

"It is almost a mortal sin for a player to give the ball away so frequently but it's the main reason I cannot see a way to build a team around him. I don't think he will be that player for Liverpool.

"How can he be considered a playmaker when he loses the ball so often? That's the opposite of playmaking. He does deserve more time, however. He's still young and he has been forced to grow up fast in the last two seasons."

Read the full column only in The Herald.

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