The Brazilian playmaker has proved himself invaluable to the Reds as he has scored in three successive fixtures, quelling criticism following a transfer request submitted to leave Anfield for Barcelona in the summer. But now, following the loss of Sadio Mane for six weeks that comes just before the Reds face Manchester United on Saturday, Liverpool will be relying on the midfielder more than ever.
Though the 25-year-old missed the start of the season with a ghost back injury, he has been in scintillating form for Jurgen Klopp’s side since his return, scoring three league goals and bagging one assist.
Despite the top-class performances of fellow forwards Roberto Firmino and Mane, Matteo believes Coutinho still has the edge.
“He seems to be a level ahead of even the Firminos and the Manes,” he told bestsafe.
“He is one of those players that could easily go into a Barcelona or a Real Madrid as he is that clever and he has got such a good football brain, something that us ex-footballers dreamed of having, he is one step ahead.”
“In the Newcastle game, even though we didn’t win, there were flashes in that, the great goal and some of the balls he was putting through.
“He is instrumental, he is that little bit of stardust that a lot of teams don’t have, he is a top draw player and hopefully he is winning the Liverpool fans back over with his goals and his performances and we can keep hold of him as he is our best player.”
Mane missing being sidelined for an extended period of time could see Jurgen Klopp choosing £35m Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has yet to prove his worth for Liverpool. He will be looking to make his first Premier League start since arriving at Anfield in the summer, and Matteo has called for the midfielder to show his experience and value.
“I think Oxlade-Chamberlain’s good enough, we’ve only seen bits and pieces of him so far. He needs a run of games, like certain players around the Liverpool set-up, they all need runs of games,” said Matteo.
“As a player, these are the games that you want to be starting and if he does start on the weekend this is the game he needs to stand up and be counted. To show Liverpool fans that he is here and he means business.”
Liverpool head into the fixture seventh in the Premier League, while Manchester United are top of the table.