Liverpool and Philippe Coutinho can take one-year hiatus from FSG to survive strangest season | #tinder | #pof

You know football is back when your phone illuminates, and then starts to melt, because it simply cannot handle all of the hot takes it is housing. In lieu of the Premier League, we had to deal with the Bundesliga (hey, Liverpool should really sign that Jadon Sancho guy, huh?). Before the Bundesliga, it was whatever series Netflix were pushing that week (Joe Exotic is not a good person, can we just throw that out there now?). Before Netflix, it was… you get the picture.

But rejoice. Tiger King is out, and that little weird lion thing on top of the Premier League trophy is in. And so are the hot takes. There are going to be a lot of them, mainly because these last nine fixtures will serve as some sort of World Cup. Players exist in vacuums, and clubs are not this continuous, multi-functional brand, but instead a six-week supernova who will fly in and out of our lives are rapid speed. If everything we know about the Premier League is like being involved in a marriage – arguments and all – then the end of the 2019/20 campaign is the whirlwind Tinder date which ends with a kebab in the back of a cab.

With that in mind, my phone has already begun receiving them. It didn’t even need the return of the Premier League, in truth. Instead, it was the news Timo Werner is going to Chelsea, that Edinson Cavani is available on a free transfer this summer, and that Barcelona would give Philippe Coutinho away to be rid of it. This got me thinking: what if Liverpool.com took some of the wildest hot takes, analysed them, and then ultimately decided to either a) embark on a pilgrimage to this lonely hill and die upon it, or b) simply delete the message, block the number, and never speak of this atrocity again. This could be a recurring feature. It could be a one-off. Maybe this take is enough to bring down the walls of Liverpool.com, never to be rebuilt again. But either way, it is why the next few hundreds words will serve to convincing you that Liverpool need to sign Cavani and Coutinho this summer.

Yes. Cavani, the 33 year old Paris St-Germain striker who reportedly earns £325,000 a week in the French capital. And yes, Coutinho. The player who absolutely will not go back to Anfield, whose departure helped kickstart Liverpool’s era of dominance, and the playmaker who has failed to progress at both Barca and Bayern Munich.

This makes absolutely zero sense on the surface. FSG and Jurgen Klopp have built a team which is the antithesis of these two players and the deals which would see them come to Merseyside. Cavani is in the twilight of his career, commands a ridiculous wage, represents no resale value, and is tired of backing up Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. Coutinho, meanwhile, is now 28 – the same age as Liverpool’s current front three in fairness – but jumped off the train, rather than help push it; he is not defensively-minded enough to operate as a no.8 in Klopp’s midfield, or quick enough to serve as a wide player. The presence of the two would be potentially disruptive, certainly on the pitch, and perhaps even off it. The wage structure, so carefully constructed by the club, would wobble like an origami tower in a hurricane; the cohesion on the pitch, so strong right now, could be disrupted.

But this next year is going to be flat out weird. The Champions League group stages will take place in two three-week bursts. Liverpool are going to lose Adam Lallana, and there are still question marks over Xherdan Shaqiri and Divock Origi. While Harvey Elliott is a promising talent, and though Naby Keita v7.0 is about to be rebooted, Liverpool might need something more in attack. The turnaround between this season and next is quick, the squad will be stretched.

There is an acceptance, if not understanding, that the injection of talent someone like Werner would have provided costs money; in this COVID-19 affected world, too much money. The same would be true of Kai Havertz and Jadon Sancho. And while that means the summer of 2021 could be big, there are 12 months, and two major trophies to compete for in-between then.

That’s not to suggest Liverpool couldn’t compete for the Premier League and Champions League without investment this summer. This season is proof a big financial outlay isn’t imperative. But it could be more difficult, especially with rivals – Chelsea and Manchester United in particular – readying to close the gap with big spending this summer.

So why not treat 2020/21 as a free hit, a season on its own, something which is essentially non-canon? It would be a radical option, but would possibly boost their chances of maintaining their quest for trophies next year, before resuming normal service in the summer 2021. Signing Cavani on a one-year, heavily incentivised deal, and bringing Coutinho back to Anfield on loan, could do that.

Imagine the boost to the Anfield bench the duo would give. Cavani only played 1,096 minutes for PSG this season, and registered a goal involvement every 110 minutes. The year before, he scored or assisted even more frequently – once every 75 minutes, which is an astonishing rate. He is not the Cavani of his pomp but he is still a player who is used to playing in a dominant team, and would fill the gap in the squad Daniel Sturridge left in 2019, resting the legs of Roberto Firmino where necessary. Coutinho needs no real explanation, and though reuniting the Fab Four long-term is not a worthwhile strategy, another low-fee loan deal (Barcelona still owe Liverpool for his transfer, remember) means Klopp would have a player to bully teams at home, or provide a spark off the bench in tighter contests.

There would need to be an acceptance at Anfield that this is not the new norm or change in strategy, but instead, a one-year boost in a season which will look differently to what was first intended. A pair of glass slippers, as Chuck Palahniuk wrote in Fight Club. “You slip it on when you meet a stranger. You dance all night, then you throw it away.” A chance for Cavani to see out his career in a dream scenario, a chance for Coutinho to say farewell, and a chance for Liverpool to dance with a strange strategy for a season before continuing their long-term build towards domination.




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