Coutinho is the fantasy football midfield must-have

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The popular theory that suggests that signings made during the January transfer window will only really show their true worth in the following season provides an exciting proposition for Liverpool fans.

For in Philippe Coutinho, an £8.5m signing from Inter Milan, they don’t need the opening months of this season to know that they have a real gem in the 21-year-old from Brazil.

In only 13 appearances, the midfielder established himself as a key attacking force in Brendan Rodgers’ side, scoring three times and laying on a goal on seven occasions, finishing the season on 70 points in fantasy football.

Given that this total was accumulated in just 923 minutes in a Liverpool shirt, his points per minute ratio of 7.58 placed him among the top five fantasy football midfielders, behind only Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Frank Lampard and Juan Mata.

To be among such esteemed Premier League company after only a few games in England’s top division suggests that, with a full pre-season behind him and a firmer grasp on his role in the team, he could be set to take it up a further notch this time round.

And with Lucas back from injury, Steven Gerrard no longer the box-to-box runner that he once was, and Luis Suarez looking less likely to play for Liverpool as each feuding day goes by, Coutinho could well be used in a more advanced role behind Daniel Sturridge. Indeed only this week, manager Rodgers remarked at how excited he was too see those two combine this coming season.

Pre-season stats bode well for Coutinho fans too, having scored three times in six games, one of which was from the spot, suggesting that he may even become Liverpool’s permanent penalty taker in the absence of Suarez. At 25/1, Coutinho looks the pick of the bunch to finish the season as top scoring midfielder.

He has his rivals of course. But with Gareth Bale presumably Real Madrid-bound, Juan Mata (8/1) and Eden Hazard (14/1) prone to Mourinho rotation, David Silva (12/1) failing to recapture the form of his first season, and Michu (16/1) expected to drop deeper this year following the signing of Wilfried Bony, his sternest competition could come from high-scoring Arsenal duo Santi Cazorla (6/1) and Theo Walcott (7/1), both of whom are unsurprisingly second favourites in the market after Bale (11/8).

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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