Liverpool have today completed the signing of Philippe Coutinho from Inter Milan. The 20 year old becomes Brendan Rodgers’ second January signing, but what do the stats tell us about him?
Due to his fairly limited experience (he has played the equivalent of 39 matches in Serie A, La Liga and European tournaments) there aren’t too many stats to draw on, but I’ve dug out what I can from Whoscored and transfermarkt to try to establish what the young Brazilian’s strengths are.
The first thing I notice is that he appears to be handy with either foot; Coutinho’s ten career goals in La Liga, Serie A, and the Europa League have consisted of two direct free-kicks, two left foot shots, and six with his right peg.
He will also add to Liverpool’s arsenal of dribblers, who will look to torment opposition defenders.
In the league this season the Reds currently have the second (Luis Suárez) and seventh (Raheem Sterling) most frequent successful dribblers. Coutinho’s figures from the Europa League (where he was ranked second for dribbling) would put him second in the Premier League list, ahead of Suárez and behind only Hatem Ben Arfa.
He’s certainly not afraid to shoot either. He had more shots per game than any Liverpool player in the Europa League group stage, and the tenth most overall. Coutinho also averaged 2.5 per game for Espanyol in La Liga last season, which can only be bettered by five midfielders in the whole Premier League this season, and only by Suárez and Sturridge for the Reds.
The Brazilian will also offer goalscoring opportunities via through balls. He averaged 0.3 accurate such passes per game in the 2011/12 La Liga campaign, which would be joint tenth best in the Premier League this season, and no Liverpool player can better that tally.
Of course, question marks will inevitably hang over his head, with regards to whether or not he can handle the physical nature of English football; his stats suggest he hasn’t tackled much in La Liga or Serie A, and he will surely be expected to ‘get stuck in’ more than he has done previously when playing for the Reds.
But Liverpool appear to have got themselves a fairly low-risk bargain buy, who should certainly be an asset in an attacking sense, and even if it doesn’t work out for the Brazilian at Anfield, the club should be able to get back their transfer outlay. Speaking of which…
It’s interesting to me that Coutinho is deemed a risk by the media (the BBC deemed him a ‘gamble’ here), but no-one bats an eyelid when Manchester United pay virtually double the money to secure Wilfred Zaha from Crystal Palace.
Yet Zaha has a goal or assist every 246 mins in his career (which has been at Championship level thus far), whilst Coutinho has a goal or assist every 233 mins at top European league and Europa League level. If ever you wanted an advert for the idea of a British transfer premium, this may well be it.
Welcome to Liverpool, Philippe.