How Philippe Coutinho would fit in Manchester United team if they really were interested in signing him
Manchester United have once again been linked with a sensational move for former Liverpool forward Philippe Coutinho in the transfer window.
And attacking midfield is one area United have plenty of options in, making a club-record transfer hard to justify.
But IF United were to swoop for Coutinho in one of the most improbable deals they could pull off in the transfer market today, where would he fit in?
This is the position where Coutinho made himself the best player in the Premier League at times for Liverpool.
His ability to glide past players, shift the ball onto his right foot and curl a stunner into the far corner was iconic – in the same way Arjen Robben has made a career of scoring the same goal yet defenders still remain unable to prevent the inevitable.
But United have finally brought the best out of Anthony Martial on the left, and he has looked far less effective on the opposite flank. However exciting Coutinho would be, it would surely be counter-productive to re-locate Martial in the front line.
Once again, a roaming Coutinho from a central attacking midfield position would truly excite the Old Trafford crowd. Imagine his vision working with Marcus Rashford upfront and feeding Martial to his left.
But just like Martial on the left-wing, Paul Pogba’s shift forward to a ‘number ten’ role under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has worked wonders. Dropping Pogba back into defensive midfield caused problems under former manager Jose Mourinho and United suffered as a result.
Probably the position where Coutinho is most needed, with current options Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata more inclined to drift inside.
But putting Coutinho on the right wing would limit his threat of cutting in and shooting from the edge of the area. It might suit United more, but wouldn’t get the most out of their supposed new signing.
Perhaps a solution would be to adopt a flexible, interchanging formation involving Coutinho, Martial, Pogba and Rashford. But that gets complicated, and United have looked far better this season playing players to their strengths in a defined position.
There is also Alexis Sanchez, who is arguably the closest United have to Coutinho and already presents exactly the same problems as the Brazilian would.
United would be foolish to pass up a player of Coutinho’s quality, but if the rumours have any credibility to them, the club should learn from the past and only sign him if he could truly fit in the side.