Phillipe Coutinho’s possible transfer to Barcelona has been one of the summer’s hottest talking points, with the future of the Brazilian international dominating social media and the back pages of various newspapers. The 25-year-old hasn’t featured for Liverpool this season, with a ‘back injury’ the reason given for his absence, but Coutinho excelled on international duty, claiming an assist before netting his side’s second in a convincing 2-0 victory over Ecuador.
Barcelona admitted their pursuit of the Liverpool playmaker has proven unsuccessful, with the Catalan club still keen on signing the Brazilian in January. Coutinho’s fitness appeared to have been good enough to feature heavily on August 31 where he teamed up with Paulinho to devastating effect. Was his ‘injury’ simply a smokescreen to keep him on the sidelines until his future had been resolved?
Kylian Mbappe is another player who has been linked with a move this summer and the talented 19-year-old finally secured his transfer to PSG on the final day of the August. The striker went off injured during Monaco’s opening weekend victory against Toulouse and failed to feature again for the champions. However, after securing his move to the Paris club, he represented his country in their crucial World Cup qualifier against the Netherlands and found the back of the net in the process.
Thomas Lemar, who also featured for Les Bleus, is a name that has been consistently linked with a Premier League move, although the midfielder ultimately opted to remain in his homeland. Didier Deschamps’ men were expected to prevail and keep a clean sheet on Betsafe’s football tips page, with a fully fit Lemar – as expected – playing a crucial role, scoring two goals in the 4-0 rout.
Mbappe’s injury appeared a little more convincing than Coutinho’s, having limped off the pitch 15 minutes from time 0n August 5. Leonardo Jardim declared his star asset would need ‘2-3 days’ recovery time, although as it transpired, it was his final appearance in a Monaco shirt.
In his column for the BBC Sport website, pundit Robbie Savage admitted that ‘faking an injury’ is one of the best ways of engineering a transfer away from your current employers. He insisted it is relatively straightforward for players to claim they are feeling a ‘niggle’, ensuring they are left out of the starting line-up. His other suggestions include complaining to backroom staff and undermining the manager.
One common excuse is that a player ‘isn’t in the right frame of mind’ upon hearing of interest in their services from a rival club. This is often the case when a player is linked with a move higher up the footballing pyramid. Picking up a season-ending injury and therefore failing to secure a dream move is likely to be the primary reason for non-participation but with many transfer sagas rumbling on for at least a month, a whole chunk of the season can be wasted sitting on the sidelines.
Riyad Mahrez is one of the few players who have knuckled down and continued to impress despite interest from elsewhere. The Algerian winger has excelled for Leicester this season despite his name being continually linked with the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and even Roma but sadly, he is in the minority.
Liverpool fans will be interested to see if Coutinho is parachuted straight back into Jurgen Klopp’s XI when the Reds visit the Etihad on September 9 and whether he can hit the heights of last season.
Risking serious injury is likely to be the primary concern of many players who are being linked with a move elsewhere; however, faking a medical complaint is unlikely to be received positively by the majority of fans should the proposed transfer break down or fail to materialise. Mahrez has set a terrific precedent for wantaway stars but sadly it appears as though further unexplained ‘niggles’ or ‘knocks’ are likely to occur when the transfer window opens for business at the start of 2018.