Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool remain unbeaten against the top six sides in the Premier League after drawing 1-1 at Manchester City on Sunday.
The Reds took the lead at the Etihad Stadium after Gael Clichy fouled Roberto Firmino in the box, allowing James Milner to slot home his seventh of the campaign from the penalty spot.
However, Pep Guardiola’s City got themselves back on level terms 21 minutes from time when striker Sergio Aguero turned home Kevin De Bruyne’s outstanding cross, and although both sides pushed for a winner, the points had to be shared.
It means that City remain third and Liverpool fourth, although the Reds are now just four points clear of Manchester United in fifth after the Red Devils won at Middlesbrough to keep the pressure on the Premier League’s top four.
Liverpool have got nine games left this season to keep themselves in the top four, yet despite having Champions League football to play for, it hasn’t stopped speculation arising about potential incomings and outgoings at Anfield this summer.
And one man who could be on his way out of the club is Brazilian international Philippe Coutinho, who has in recent days been linked with a move to Spanish giants Barcelona.
The 24-year-old is reportedly one of their top targets to replace Andres Iniesta in midfield, with Luis Enrique’s men preparing for the Spaniard’s departure in the near future.
Yet Liverpool should do all they can to keep Coutinho at Anfield this summer.
The attacker may not be in the greatest of form at present, but there’s little doubt that over the last few years, he has been their go-to man, most notably when they are struggling to break teams down or need that moment of quality to win a game.
Coutinho moved to Anfield back in January 2013 after a hugely impressive time at Italian side Inter Milan, and he quickly adapted to the demands of English football, netting three goals and laying on five assists in his first 13 Premier League appearances.
And he has become increasingly important for Liverpool over recent years, with last season and indeed the start of this term indicative of his role as the main orchestrator in the attacking third of the pitch.
Coutinho scored eight goals and laid on five assists in 26 league games last season for the Reds, and at the start of this season, he alongside Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane was absolutely rampant, with the 24-year-old himself scoring five and assisting five in his first 11 matches.
The three of them work brilliantly together as a unit, as illustrated by Liverpool’s struggles when Coutinho was injured during December and when Mane was away during January, to the point that, arguably, they need each other to all perform to their best.
As aforementioned, Coutinho has not been in great form since returning from injury, he arguably came back too soon, but a player of that quality and ability is not going to be out of form for long.
There were signs in his efforts against Leicester last month that he was beginning to regain his confidence and guile in the final third, and was the only Red that stood out on a bitterly disappointing evening for Klopp’s men at the King Power Stadium.
The 24-year-old also did well against Arsenal and Manchester City, and just having him in the side always provides them with that chance that he can make something happen from no-where, he’s that good.
It may be difficult to keep him amid interest from Barcelona, especially if Liverpool were to miss out on Champions League football next term, but the Reds have to do all they can to keep their best players, and Coutinho is certainly one of them.