Liverpool defeated Leicester City in the invitational Premier League Asia Trophy final in Hong Kong on Saturday afternoon.
Although the trophy and medals are little more than a morale-booster, facing Premier League opposition this early in a campaign does have its benefits – and Philippe Coutinho might well pick up where he left off last season if his winning goal is anything to go by.
On the stroke of half time and with the scores tied at 1-1 thanks to Mohamed Salah (via a Coutinho assist) cancelling out Islam Slimani’s opener, the Brazilian international picked the ball up out wide on the edge of the area, before cutting inside and firing in a rasper of a shot that gave Kasper Schmeichel no chance.
— AnfieldNation (@AnfieldNation) July 22, 2017
COUTINHO! What a goal from the Brazilian! pic.twitter.com/y5WIr3FZ0P
— Empire of the Kop (@empireofthekop) July 22, 2017
Jurgen Klopp’s side held on in the second half to win the friendly trophy, having beaten Crystal Palace in the semi-final earlier in the week.
Coutinho’s Anfield future has been the subject of fevered speculation during the week. News broke on Friday morning that Barcelona had seen a £72m bid for the playmaker rejected, though how that plays out going forward will be anyone’s guess.
One thing for certain, however, is that regardless of the five-year contract Coutinho signed in the middle of last season, keeping hold of him in the face of strong interest from a club like Barcelona would be a massive challenge for the Merseyside club.
Klopp himself, however, is feeling confident that his number ten will be staying at Anfield:
Klopp on Coutinho: “He’s a key player for us. I know he feels more than comfortable at #LFC. He loves the club and loves the city.”
— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) July 22, 2017