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A Magician Departed

Over the past 5 years, a common sight the beleaguered Liverpool fan had come to raucously
embrace was that of a diminutive Brazilian waltzing his way down the left flank, each motion
as if coldly calculated, each silky touch of the football a harbinger of a memory supporters
had accustomed themselves to—past one defender, past another, a dainty cut inside, a slight
swivel of the hips, and the deftest of finishes past a hapless goalkeeper.
There was something to behold in the recurrent method of the man's artistry: you knew what
was coming, and yet you watched, with bated breath and explicit hope.
Philippe Coutinho: Talisman; miracle worker; entertainer; magician; FC Barcelona hitman.
Liverpool F.C.'s former number 10 has magic in his boots, an uncertain elegance the modern
footballer seems to have traded for arbitrary vanity. Which is why the Anfield faithful is yet
to come to terms with his £146m move to Barcelona, who currently sit pretty on top of the
Spanish ladder, are blessed with immaculate talent, and are quite possibly the biggest name in
world football. And which is why Coutinho's demand to leave Liverpool in the summer was
so elementary. The lure of playing alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, amongst others,
under Ernesto Valverde's astute guidance would be foolish to pass. The Nou Camp is the
closest approximation to a footballing cathedral, home to champions, an altar of realised
dreams. Surely, you couldn't begrudge Coutinho his calling.
The little 'bruxo' from Rio “dreamt many times about scoring a goal in the shirt.” “I never had
any doubts about signing for the club and it’s an honour to be able to play alongside my
heroes. I hope to enjoy it and win trophies.”
Trophies are rarely synonymous with Liverpool nowadays, and while the board staved off
Barcelona thrice in the summer, it was only a matter of time before the club's resolve was
diminished.
Fans of a Red disposition were treated to a nervous game of 'will he, won't he,' and with each
passing month, the little magician was ceasing to wonder; his goals and assists signalled a
statement of intent, in the direction of the exit. The season of protracted negotiations finally
saw him leave for clear-skied Catalunya in a record five-and-a-half-year contract, with a
buyout clause of 400m Euros (£354.6m).
Liverpool now have an unimaginable void to fill in their midfield, and while names like
Thomas Lemar, Leon Goretzka, and Christian Pulisic are being discussed as possible
replacements, fans remain firmly under the spell of their lost hero.
Some wish he had stayed until the end of the season, others believe it was time to move on,
but no one's disputing the nature of his craft—beautiful, poetic, utterly mesmerising.
The lad could pass a ball through a rush of holiday shoppers. He was that good. He was
magical. But probably his greatest trick was letting us Liverpool fans believe again.