By Gary Murray
There have been a few little murmurs during the current January transfer window about Liverpool potentially bringing back Philippe Coutinho or Luis Suarez. It seems, across social media, that there is a split in opinions amongst Liverpool fans on this issue. I can’t make my mind up on how I’d feel. I’m leaning towards that I would welcome Suarez back with open arms, but would be a bit reluctant with our former ‘little magician’, Coutinho. Whether or not these rumours are to believed I don’t know, but as the saying goes, ‘there’s no smoke without fire’. The Suarez rumour stems from his comments on Jurgen Klopp: “Currently we work for two different clubs, so that’s not an issue for me at the moment. But yes, every player would like to train under Jurgen Klopp.”
The circumstances surrounding Suarez’ exit annoyed a lot of the Liverpool fans. It started when he tried to force a move to Arsenal. Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool manager at the time, handled the situation brilliantly. He sent Suarez to train with the under 23 squad to keep him away from the first team and avoid any of his squad becoming influenced by the attacker and potentially becoming unsettled. He wouldn’t allow him to re-join the first team squad until he had issued a full apology to all of his team mates. All of this however, didn’t effect Luis Suarez’ performances on the pitch. The season that followed seen him play 33 league games, registering 31 goals and 17 assists. He never sulked or ‘downed tools’ at any point and always gave 100% for the team.
The circumstances surrounding Coutinho's departure were very different. When Barcelona made their first substantial approach for the Brazilian playmaker in the summer of 2017, he proceeded to, in many Liverpool supporters minds, feign a back injury in order to not play for the reds, yet he was in fine form whenever called upon by his national team. When he did play in the red shirt, he was visually unhappy and regularly put in below par performances. He did everything in his power to force his way out of Anfield and to the Nou Camp, including paying up to £11.5million out of his own pocket towards the £142million transfer.
Since Coutinho has made the switch, it hasn’t worked out quite how he would have liked. His form has been more down than up and the supporters have been a bit reluctant to give him the time some players need to settle in to a new club, although at £142million, they might be well within their rights to expect an instant impact. This, accompanied by Liverpool’s unbelievable form in the premier league and champions League since he left, would make bringing him back all the more difficult. The team haven’t looked back since he left, narrowly missing out on winning the champions League for the sixth time last season and, deservedly, being top of the premier league this season.
There is an argument that bringing back a previously unsettled player could disrupt the rest of the squad. Some supporters, myself included, would rather Liverpool invest in bringing players in who want to be there and wouldn’t abandon us midway through what could have turned out to be a victorious campaign.
The contrast in behaviour between the two players during their transfer to Barcelona, is the reason I said at the start why I was leaning more towards welcoming Suarez back and turning my nose up at Coutinho. But having outlined the fact I’d rather bring in players who view playing for Liverpool as a privilege rather than a stepping stone, I’d find it hard to be too willing to welcome either back. Having said that, with our seriously long wait for the premier league crown to be back at Anfield, if bringing either of them back guaranteed us the title, I would be willing drive the 2300mile round trip from Anfield to the Nou Camp and back again to pick them up, all would be forgiven.
This is why I can’t make up my mind on how I feel I about the rumours. At the moment that’s exactly what they are, rumours. What I am certain of though, I would be seriously gutted to see our former Number 10 in the red, black and white of Manchester United. The reports of United’s interest has grown over the last few weeks and with his form dipping and him seemingly being unhappy, there could be more in the stories than just speculation. Does wanting to keep him out of a rival’s team warrant re-opening our door to him? We’ve discussed during one of our weekly podcasts whether bringing him back on loan would be an option. That way, we could see the impact it has on the squad he originally left behind and how he would settle back in. Also, it would give the club a chance to see how the supporters would take to his return, after his ‘dream move’ failed only a year on.