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DAVID MADDOCK: We may have just seen Coutinho turn into Liverpool’s new Suarez

Date Posted,April 2, 2017

What makes a great player?

Talent, sure.

Mental strength, too.


All good answers.

Yet it is that indefinable ­quality of belief — arrogance, in a sense — that perhaps makes the biggest difference.

This was the ingredient Luis Suarez added while at Liverpool to elevate him from a top player into a truly great one.

With him, there was a moment against Everton where ­Suarez confirmed that special quality, when he was ­accused pre-match of diving by David Moyes… and celebrated an inevitable goal in the derby by diving at the feet of the Blues’ manager.

Now that is belief.

Suarez mocked Moyes with this goal celebration in October 2012… (Photo: Getty)
Luis Suarez dives in front of David Moyes after Liverpool take the lead
…after scoring to put Liverpool 2-0 up at Goodison… (Photo: Getty)
…having been labelled a diver by the Everton boss in the run-up to the game (Photo: Getty)

On Saturday, we may have just witnessed another of those ­moments in another seminal game between the Mersey enemies — a pivotal moment when a very good player takes a step up towards a higher level.

It was Philippe Coutinho , of course.

His performance alone was something we’ve not quite seen from the Brazilian in a ­Liverpool shirt before; an ability and determination to take the game by the throat and squeeze the life out of his opponents.

Coutinho has produced many moments of brilliance in a red shirt, but few sustained matches of imperious control as he did here.

Yet it wasn’t even the performance which was potentially career-transforming, as impressive as it was in showing he is finally ready to dictate games.

A superb Coutinho goal put Liverpool ahead to stay immediately after Everton’s equaliser (Photo: Liverpool Echo)


The most telling contribution came in the 73rd ­minute, after he’d taken Everton apart with a Samba slalom and genius finish for 2-1, and then created the Reds’ clinching third goal for Divock Origi.

It came as his ­number was raised to haul him from the fray.

Coutinho is used to being subbed and usually trots willingly to the line.

Not this time.

He shot a death stare towards manager Jurgen Klopp, ­violently shook his head at ­the German, lowered his glare ­and avoided any form of ­trademark Klopp embrace.

That anger and defiance spoke volumes.

He knew we was conducting ­Liverpool’s ­symphony, and was destroying Everton.

He knew he was the best player and could have added further punishment.

Liverpool substitute Trent Alexander-Arnold comes on to replace Philippe Coutinho
The Brazilian was replaced by young Trent Alexander-Arnold for the final 20 minutes (Photo: Reuters)
Klopp said afterwards he understood why Coutinho was annoyed to get the hook… (Photo: Action Images via Reuters)
…but pointed out he’d just got back from playing for Brazil in World Cup qualifying (Photo: AFP/Getty)

For once, he was prepared to say it… the quiet, unassuming ­little midfielder ­finally finding his arrogance.

Afterwards, even Klopp was inclined to suggest it was an ­important moment for a star ­accused so often of being too passive, too timid, showing fire and fight.

The German, who suggested he was saving the 24-year-old’s legs for the game against Bournemouth on Wednesday, said: “His ­reaction was positive. Yes.

“Everyone could see he was upset at coming off.

“He could have carried on ­making a ­difference with his genius ­passing and his speed, but we really need him and 70 minutes was ­absolutely enough after his trip and playing the games for Brazil [in South America last week, before being whisked back for the Saturday lunchtime kickoff].

“I am happy, happy, happy though. It was a fantastic game from him, absolutely fantastic, in offensive and defensive.”

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