The year is 2022 and a magician is back in town…well, the Premier League.
Do you remember him bounding around Anfield and curling 35 yard screamers into the onion sack week-in, week-out? I do, but that was 2015 and this is 2022. Switching the Camp Nou for Villa Park and leaping boundlessly into the arms of Steven Gerrard.
Yes Coutinho arrives amidst a reasonable amount of enthusiam emanating from Villa Park.
Gerrard has strode into Villa Park on the back of unmeasurable success at Rangers, lifting his heavy sword to bare and with him what appears to be a merry band of brothers in the shape of internationally recognised signings. The first being the Brazilian wizard that is Coutinho.
A coup I’m sure you’ll agree and one that comes in the form of a loan agreement with Barcelona. Long have his talents been admired with a certain Rafa Benitez heralding Coutinho as ‘The future of Inter Milan’ during his time at the San Siro.
It appears that Barcelona are keen to hold onto their asset and to have him firing on all cylinders when they next decide to mount a challenge for La Liga. The other alternative is for Steven Gerrard to charm Coutinho as he leads the Villans in search of European Football.
No doubt observers from Catalonia watched on as Coutinho replaced Samson in the 68th minute with an out of sorts Manchester United leading by two clear goals…could this be the moment for the Brazilian wizard. Indeed with a mere 13 minutes left on the clock Coutinho showed his intricate footwork by gently sliding the ball sideways across the box into the path of Villa academy player Ramsey. Ramseys finish added even more fluidity to the goal, sweeping his shot across De Gea and into the far left hand side of the goal.
The curtain raising moment of the game soon followed.
This time Ramsey turned provider for Coutinho by sweeping a low and calculated pass across the 6 yard box, evading everyone except for a primed and waiting Coutinho. In that graceful and unteachable method inherited by most Southern Hemisphere players, Coutinho adjusted the weight of his body and accurately prodded and lifted the ball over a despairing De Gea and into the roof of the Manchester United net for the equaliser.
Let’s face it, with both Gerrard and Coutinho plying their trade at Villa Park the prospect of European nights returning to the English Midlands is a distinct reality. It’s been touted that this season will be used as a building block with a far mightier attempted to be orchestrated in the summer.
Will Coutinho be part of Gerrards long term plans, or is this transfer one that fits both purposes for player and his present club.
Intrigue has found a new home for the neutral football fan and it lives firmly inside the gates of Villa Park.