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Philippe Coutinho is back. But how soon will it be until he is back to his very best?
The attacker has been given the opportunity to reignite his career. And so far, he has taken that opportunity with both hands. He achieved a dream debut with new club Aston Villa. The Brazilian netted shortly after coming off the bench against old foes Manchester United.
The impressive cameo earned him a start against Everton the following week. And that club form has seemingly transferred to his national team efforts. On what was his first start since 2020, Coutinho scored a stunning goal in Brazil’s 4-0 win against Paraguay in World Cup qualifying.
Quem sabe não esquece! 🎯
📸 Lucas Figueiredo/CBF pic.twitter.com/PJxn3GFykJ
— CBF Futebol (@CBF_Futebol) February 2, 2022
Can Gerrard bring the best out of Coutinho?
The forward made it clear upon joining Villa last month that Gerrard was key to his decision. The pair first sparked up a relationship on the pitch while teammates at Liverpool. Now the dynamic is slightly different, but the connection looks set to remain the same.
By no means is Gerrard an experienced manager. But he has proven during his stint at Rangers that he is more than capable of producing results. He worked with a handful of high-profile players while at Ibrox. But managing Coutinho will be a new challenge for him.
That said, it has been a dream start for both parties. The Brazilian took a pay cut to join the Midlands club, such was his ambition to link up with his former teammate.
And that may just have been the exact mindset he needed in order to properly restart his career. The footballing community is well aware of his recent struggles abroad. But it’s time to put those woes behind him and focus on success at Villa. And fortunately for Coutinho, his manager has assembled a side that is capable of challenging at a higher level.
On an individual note, however, it is even more positive for the Brazilian. He has a stable defence behind him through the likes of Martinez, Ezri Konsa and Tyrone Mings. Compatriot Douglas Luiz and fan favourite John McGinn add another layer to the defensive side of things.
Such a situation simply frees up Coutinho to express himself. Moreover, he has a long list of talented players around him. Buendia, Danny Ings, and Ollie Watkins are all capable of linking up expertly in the final third. And youngster Jacob Ramsey is already proving just how talented he is.
Successful break for Villa and Premier League stars
It seems that fans all around the globe want to see the Coutinho of old, the Coutinho that lit up the pitch during his spell at Liverpool. Those intricate passes, dazzling runs and unstoppable strikers may return soon if he can keep the momentum up.
But he wasn’t the only Villa player impressing on the international stage in South America. In the World Cup qualifying games, goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez kept a clean sheet as Argentina beat Colombia 1-0. Emi Buendia meanwhile was rewarded for his hard work at club level with his competitive debut.
It was, in fact, a superb break in general for the Premier League players. Tottenham Hotspur new boy Rodrigo Bentancur found the net for Uruguay. And the same can be said for Leeds star Raphina for Brazil.