I have no crystal ball – Liverpool CEO unsure of Coutinho future

Liverpool chief executive Peter Moore is unsure if Philippe Coutinho will still be at the club after the January transfer window, saying he has “no crystal ball”.

The Brazil international was the subject of interest from Barcelona during the close-season and reportedly tried to force a move through.

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Liverpool stood firm on that occasion and managed to keep hold of the talented attacking midfielder, though there are no assurances that Barca will not come back in for him.

And the club’s CEO cannot guarantee that Coutinho – who scored a hat-trick in Wednesday’s 7-0 thrashing of Spartak Moscow – will remain.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Moore said: “[On Wednesday] I saw a player delighted to score a hat-trick in front of 54,000 fans. It’s all about Philippe on the pitch right now.

“As far as I’m concerned the squad in January is what we have. I have no crystal ball.”

But Moore highlighted that Liverpool’s recruitment team are doing a good job, pointing to the purchases of Mohamed Salah, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

“From the perspective of competing, we do things the Liverpool way,” Moore said.

“The chemistry that we build on the field – it’s not about buying the most expensive player.

Philippe Coutinho Liverpool

“We haven’t been shy [in terms of spending]. Obviously, the Mohamed Salah purchase for many people has been the top acquisition of the season.

“We already have Naby Keita coming and I think Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is doing a tremendous job.

“The investments are being made. It’s hard to knock what you are seeing on the field right now.”

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In the long run, though, Moore has certain expectations in mind for Liverpool, demanding them to become consistent challengers for European honours.

“We need to be a contender for the Champions League year in, year out,” he added.

“We need to be in the top four every year. But this club exists to win trophies. It’s what our fans deserve.”

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Fantasy Football: Liverpool dominate Goal Champions League Team of the Week after Spartak thrashing

The last round of Champions League group stage play is now in the books, and it was a matchday that saw Philippe Coutinho pick up his first ever hat trick for Liverpool in their 7-0 drubbing of Spartak Moscow. That performance obviously earned him a spot in our Team of the Week, where he is joined by four of his Liverpool teammates, but who else is in the team?

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GK: Loris Karius – Liverpool – 1 Game, 5 Saves, 1 Clean Sheet = 9 Points

DF: James Milner – Liverpool – 1 Substitute Appearance, 3 Assists, 1 Clean Sheet = 15 Points

Milner has done very little when given a chance in the Premier League this season, but put him under the European lights and he shines. He ends the group stages with the most assists of any defender (five), and three of them coming on Wednesday. It’s also worth noting that Liverpool have a much higher clean sheet rate in the Champions League (50%) than domestically (31%).

James Milner Liverpool

DF: Alex Sandro – Juventus – 1 Game, 1 Assist, 1 Clean Sheet = 10 Points

DF: Serge Aurier – Tottenham – 1 Game, 1 Assist – 1 Clean Sheet = 10 Points

The wingback rotation under Mauricio Pochettino has become a thorn in the side of many Fantasy Premier League owner, but it may be more consistent in the Champions League than you think. Aurier started all but one of Tottenham’s European matches and did fairly well in a hellish group, managing a pair of clean sheets and assists. Who they draw in the next round will obviously dictate his value and usability, but the Frenchman definitely did his part in helping Spurs dominate the Group of Death.

MF: Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool – 1 Game, 3 Goals = 20 Points

Coutinho had a hat trick of assists at the weekend and followed it up with an actual hat trick against Spartak Moscow on Wednesday. He ends the group stages with the second most Fantasy points among midfielders and sixth overall in the Goal game. His influence on this Liverpool team should have diminished with the arrival of Mohamed Salah, but it seems to have given him the freedom and space to flourish into an even better player.

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MF: Sadio Mane – Liverpool – 1 Game, 2 Goals = 14 Points

MF: Corentin Tolisso – Bayern Munich – 1 Game, 2 Goals = 14 Points

MF: Mohamed Salah – Liverpool – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Assist = 11 Points

MF: Yacine Brahimi – Porto – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Assist = 11 Points

FWD: Vincent Aboubakar – Porto – 1 Game, 2 Goals, 1 Assist = 15 Points

Vincent Aboubakar FC Porto AS Monaco UEFA Champions League 06122017

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Porto came into Wednesday’s match just three points clear of Leipzig, but Aboubakar’s performance ensured safe passage to the Round of 16 for the Portuguese club. He has also been a solid Fantasy asset for his owners thus far, considering he currently sits in the top 10 among forwards and is cheaper than everyone with more points. He could face a tough road in the Champions League, though, with the Portuguese side set to face a group winner come February, but he will likely be solid value regardless.

FWD: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Borussia Dortmund – 1 Game, 2 Goals = 12 Points

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Memorable night of firsts for Coutinho in Liverpool rout

Philippe Coutinho’s night against Spartak Moscow could hardly have gone better — it started with an Anfield record and resulted in a memorable first for the attacker.

With Liverpool needing a result to secure qualification into the knock-out stages, Coutinho picked up his first-ever Liverpool hat-trick in a 7-0 win in the Champions League Group E finale.

It started just four minutes in as Mohamed Salah was brought down in the area for a penalty. Coutinho stepped up and converted the spot-kick — the fastest goal ever scored at Anfield in a Champions League match.

Coutinho notched Liverpool’s second not long after, completing a nice team move by sliding a pass from Robert Firmino past the keeper and inside the far post.

The Brazilian’s night got even better early in the second half when he scored once more off a deflection to complete his hat-trick, his first in a Liverpool shirt, and the Reds’ fifth on the evening.

Coutinho wasn’t the only Brazilian to have himself a night. Roberto Firmino also enjoyed his evening, assisting on Coutinho’s second and then getting a goal himself for Liverpool’s third.

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Firmino’s goal was the sixth of this year’s group stage. That mark is the most a Liverpool player has scored in the group stage.

The victory means Liverpool win the group and will head to the Champions League knock-out stages for the first time since the 2008-09 campaign.

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Fantasy Football: Coutinho stars in Goal’s Fantasy Team of the Week

The winter period of the Premier League often creates a good dividing line between the top teams and everyone else. Whilst we’ve only just entered December, this trend seems to already be en route if not already here, as eight members of our fantasy Team of the Week come from the traditional top six clubs. Fantasy players would be served well by filling their team with such players, especially once European commitments subside at the end of this week for three months. Until then, here are the 11 best Fantasy performers from the weekend that was.

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GK: Julian Speroni – Crystal Palace – 1 Game, 7 Saves, 1 Clean Sheet = 10 Points

DF: Nicolas Otamendi – Manchester City – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Goal Conceded = 8 Points

Manchester City have, all of a sudden, forgotten what a clean sheet is, but Otamendi has been able to offset those struggles somewhat by putting the ball in the net. Considering his price, though, the Argentine defender probably isn’t worth owning for now, especially with matches against Manchester United and Tottenham both lurking on the horizon.

Nicolas Otamendi Manchester City Southampton

DF: Christian Kabasele – Watford – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Goal Conceded = 8 Points

DF: Antonio Valencia – Manchester United – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Goal Conceded = 8 Points

MF: Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 3 Assists = 17 Points

What a ridiculous day Phillippe Coutinho had. In fact, only Sergio Aguero has scored more points in a single match (20) than Coutinho’s 17 this week. While both Liverpool and the Brazilian can both be inconsistent, they have a very nice run ahead of them, facing just two top ten defences before the calendar turns.

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MF: Eden Hazard – Chelsea – 1 Game, 2 Goals = 14 Points

MF: Jesse Lingard – Manchester United – 1 Game, 2 Goals = 14 Points

After spending the majority of the season as a bench option, Lingard was finally given minutes and immediately turned them into points. He now has made two consecutive starts and collected three goals and an assist over that stretch, therefore the Englishman looks a fantastic differential and budget option in the Goal game at the moment.

MF: David Silva – Manchester City – 1 Game, 1 Goal = 8 Points

David Silva Premier League Team of the Week

MF: Son Heung-Min – Tottenham – 1 Game, 1 Goal = 8 Points

FWD: Roberto Firmino – Liverpool – 1 Game, 2 Goals = 12 Points

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FWD: Dominic Calvert-Lewin – Everton – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Assist = 10 Points

His inclusion in our Team of the Week is another example of what seems to be a resurgence from Everton. Like Lingard, Calvert-Lewin has recently received a boost to his minutes and has responded with a goal and two assists in the last three matches. It’s also worth noting that his 52% shot accuracy, while not prolific, is higher than fellow English strikers Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford, so the young forward is definitely worth a speculative add for the braver owners out there.

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Barcelona given Coutinho price? Liverpool boss Klopp quiet on January transfers

Jurgen Klopp has refused to be drawn on reports suggesting that Liverpool have named their price for Barcelona target Philippe Coutinho.

Having seen their Brazilian star spend much of the summer being linked with a switch to Camp Nou, rumours have resurfaced ahead of the January window.

Liverpool fought hard to keep Coutinho out of Barca’s clutches amid a flurry of bids from Catalunya, with the Reds reluctant to part with a key men tied to a long-term contract.

That has, however, done little to curb the speculation and claims that the Premier League side have put an asking price on the 25-year-old’s head as they wait on renewed interest.

Klopp told reporters when those stories were put to him: “Named a price? Interesting. There is absolutely nothing to say about this. Of course Phil is still essential for us.

“Should we stop thinking about him in the moment just because there are more stories about him in the newspapers in Spain?”

While reluctant to open another debate regarding Coutinho, Klopp is prepared to admit that there may be departures from Anfield in the New Year.

He added: “I cannot give an answer for that now. A lot of things could happen.

“Maybe one or two players will tell me they want to make a move and go somewhere else. If that happens then we would have to consider that and make our decisions.”

Coutinho

If Barcelona are intending to make a fresh approach for Coutinho in January, then they are keeping their plans close to their chest.

Ernesto Valverde admits a summer-long saga was “damaging” to his club, so he will be making no comment on possible targets until deals are put in place.

He told reporters when quizzed on the fresh Coutinho rumours: “The problem is we’ve been speaking about players for a long time who are not part of the club. There was a lot of talk during the close season.

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“Right now, we can’t sign anybody, so let’s concentrate on what we’ve got now. It’s damaging to us to discuss these things when the market is closed.

“When we get to the market, I probably won’t want to discuss these things, either!

“At the moment, Coutinho is not one of my players. I want to worry about my players and the game we have [against Celta Vigo on Saturday].”

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Coutinho rumours of no interest to Valverde

Ernesto Valverde insists he is not interested in discussing rumours of a renewed Barcelona push to sign Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho in January.

The Brazil star was heavily linked with the Catalans in the previous transfer window but a deal failed to materialise, despite reports Barca lodged bids worth more than the initial €105million they paid for record signing Ousmane Dembele.

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There has been speculation they will again test Liverpool’s resolve to keep the playmaker next month, with some suggesting president Josep Maria Bartomeu will take personal responsibility over the negotiations.

However, head coach Valverde says it is pointless to talk about transfer rumours, especially while the window is closed.

“The problem is we’ve been speaking about players for a long time who are not part of the club,” he told a news conference. “There was a lot of talk during the close season.

“Right now, we can’t sign anybody, so let’s concentrate on what we’ve got now. It’s damaging to us to discuss these things when the market is closed. When we get to the market, I probably won’t want to discuss these things, either! 

“At the moment, Coutinho is not one of my players. I want to worry about my players and the game we have [against Celta Vigo on Saturday].”

Arda Turan Barcelona

Valverde also denied speaking with Arda Turan about the prospect of a move away from the club, with the Turkey international having been recently linked with Arsenal, potentially as part of a swap deal involving Mesut Ozil.

“I’ve not spoken to Arda or any other player like this,” he said. “There’s still some time before the winter window.”

Dembele, signed from Borussia Dortmund to replace Neymar, only placed twice in La Liga before suffering a hamstring injury that has kept him sidelined ever since.

Valverde stated this week that the France star is unlikely to recover in time for the Clasico on December 23 and he remains wary of rushing Dembele back into action too soon.

Ousmane Dembele Barcelona

“I’ve been asked this before,” he said about the prospect of the 20-year-old facing Real Madrid. “He’s making good progress with his recovery. We think he could be back relatively soon but, as I’ve said, we won’t take any unnecessary risks.

“In theory, we’re not planning on using him until after Christmas, but let’s see how things go in the next few weeks.”

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Valverde also hopes to have Rafinha back with the rest of the team as soon as possible, with the midfielder yet to play this season due to a knee injury.

“He’s okay, relatively speaking,” he said. “He’s been sidelined for a long time and training on his own, which has been tough for him. We need to get him back in the group dynamic.

“We need to take things carefully and not overload him. But, from what I can see, he’s in a positive mood at the moment.”

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Neymar and Suarez make Coutinho’s dream five-a-side team

Philippe Coutinho has backed Neymar to be a future Ballon d’Or winner while selecting the Brazilian in his dream five-a-side team.

The Liverpool playmaker has pieced together a side made up of those he has played alongside over the course of his career.

Coutinho 11/10 to score at Stoke

That is a serious talent pool from which to select, with Coutinho forced to leave himself out in order to include five iconic figures.

He was able to find room for former colleagues at Anfield and Inter, while offering the most expensive player in world football an opportunity to lead the line.

Philippe Coutinho dream five a side

Coutinho believes fellow Brazilian Julio Cesar was “the best goalkeeper in the world” when he linked up with Inter back in 2008.

He also considers World Cup winner Lucio, who “won everything at Inter”, to have been among the global elite when at the peak of his powers in Milan.

There was also high praise for ex-Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard – a midfielder Coutinho admits he already considered to be an “idol” before the pair worked together in England.

He told Sky Sports: “When I arrived it was a dream to play with a guy I used to watch in Brazil and play as on the PlayStation.

“He’s the best midfielder I’ve ever played with. He was better than I thought he was [before I arrived].

“He was an idol for me but when you see him training and in the dressing room it is even better.”

Another former Reds colleague, Luis Suarez, is considered to be a “killer” in front of goal and the best striker Coutinho has played with.

The final place in the 25-year-old’s side is filled by international team-mate Neymar, with the Paris Saint-Germain star expected to be named the best player on the planet at some stage in the near future.

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Pressed on whether the €222 million man will land the Ballon d’Or, Coutinho said: “Yes definitely, it’s coming… he’s the best technical player I have played with.

“He’s very skilful, in training there will be five players around him them he’ll do one movement to get away.”

Coutinho opted to name ex-Inter star Wesley Sneijder as his substitute and current Brazil boss Tite as his manager.
 

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We have to stay awake all the time – Coutinho frustrated after Sevilla collapse

Philippe Coutinho admits Liverpool must learn from Tuesday’s 3-3 Champions League draw with Sevilla, despite the result keeping them on course to win Group E.

Jurgen Klopp’s side looked to be coasting to victory on Spanish soil when they led 3-0 at the break, only to suffer a worrying second-half collapse that once again raised questions over their defensive deficiencies.

Wissam Ben Yedder scored twice before Guido Pizarro struck a dramatic late equaliser to rescue a point for Sevilla and deny a shell-shocked Liverpool from qualifying for the knockout stages.

Coutinho put the capitulation down to the players losing focus after such an impressive first half, something they can ill-afford to let happen again in the future.

“It wasn’t a good result, we almost felt like we do after a defeat,” the Brazil international told Liverpool’s official website.

“We had a great first half and then in the second half we let everything unravel and so we were all feeling very frustrated. 

“We have to stay awake all the time, 100 per cent. I think that the first half, the way we went into the game, we have to go into the second half [like that] too. 

“And I think all of the players, we all switched off a little bit and we thought that at 3-0 it was going to be a little bit difficult for the opposition [to come back]. 

“That’s what happens sometimes when you play football.”

Despite the disappointing result in Seville, Liverpool will still win the group if they beat Spartak Moscow at Anfield on December 6.

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“If you had offered us a draw [before the game] that would have been fine and [felt] better than the way the game went,” Coutinho added.

“The problem is that we were 3-0 up and playing with great intensity and had a result that was going to be great but then they drew level and that frustrated us. 

“But really, it’s a point for us and we are still top of the group, so it was an important point.”

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Fantasy Football: Hazard leads the Goal’s Team of the Week

The 12th match week of the Premier League season is now in the books and, as such, it’s time for another Goal Fantasy Team of the Week. The big clubs took care of business in this round of matches with five of the top six teams winning over the weekend. This was rightly reflected in Fantasy as those same clubs produced eight of the 11 best individual performances.

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GK: Heurelho Gomes – Watford – 1 Game, 5 Saves, 1 Clean Sheet = 9 Points

DF: Shkodran Mustafi – Arsenal – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Clean Sheet = 14 Points

After missing the previous four matches, the German defender returned to big effect against rivals Tottenham. The goal he scored at the Emirates was his first of the season and only his third since joining Arsenal so it was a bit of a collector’s item. The clean sheet though, that’s interesting. Mustafi has now earned a clean sheet in his last five matches, and the Gunners have failed to pick one up without him this season.

Marcos Alonso Chelsea

DF: Marcos Alonso – Chelsea – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Clean Sheet = 14 Points

DF: Chris Smalling – Manchester United – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Goal Conceded = 8 Points

MF: Eden Hazard – Chelsea – 1 Game, 2 Goals, 1 Assist = 17 Points

Hazard had a massive day for both Chelsea and his Fantasy owners with his two goal and one assist outing on Saturday. This performance is the latest in a good run for the Belgian, having now notched three goals and two assists over the last five matches. The odds are good that Chelsea’s star man can continue his run next week against Liverpool’s inexperienced right back options (Alexander-Arnold, Gomez).

MF: Mohamed Salah – Liverpool – 1 Game, 2 Goals = 14 Points

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MF: Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Assist = 11 Points

MF: Paul Pogba – Manchester United – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Assist = 11 Points

Not many people expected Pogba to get the start against Newcastle, but he did that and more. He picked up right where he left with his goal and assist and has only blanked once when fit this season. His return should help turn around a Manchester United attack that had failed to score multiple goals in five of the seven matches played without the Frenchman. His price fell to 7.1 whilst out injured making him an incredible value in the Goal game.

MF: Will Hughes – Watford – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Assist = 11 Points

Callum Wilson Bournemouth

FWD: Callum Wilson – Bournemouth – 1 Game, 3 Goals = 17 Points

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Well this came out of nowhere! Coming into this match Bournemouth were in the bottom 10 in both chances created and goals scored and were facing a solid Huddersfield defence. Wilson, however, decided to buck those trends, coming up with an astounding three goals. Harry Kane is the only English player with more Premier League hat-tricks since Bournemouth were promoted.

FWD: Alvaro Morata – Chelsea – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Assist = 10 Points

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Have Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane made Philippe Coutinho expendable?


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Philippe Coutinho has become a footballing superstar at Liverpool after signing from Inter Milan for a modest £8.5 million in January 2013. Then a 20-year old, the Brazilian initially caught the eye with his dribbling, passing and set piece prowess, and became an increasingly integral part of the Reds setup.

The 2016/2017 campaign was his best to date, as he scored 13 league goals and made seven assists.

Liverpool 6/4 to beat Sevilla

His brilliant displays got the attention of potential suitors and Barcelona came knocking for him this summer. The Catalan giants reportedly made multiple bids for his services, tabling offers as high as £114 million to snare the playmaker. However, Liverpool refused to sell despite Coutinho placing a transfer request.

With the transfer window shut and the new season now in full gear, Coutinho has five goals to his name already this term across the Champions League and the Premier League.

Philippe Coutinho Liverpool 2017

However, while the Brazil international will look to add to his tally on Tuesday evening when the Reds face Sevilla in UCL action, he’s not as critical a component of Jugen Klopp’s side as he used to be.

This season, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah have stolen the show, changing Coutinho’s role in the team in the process.

Senegal and Egypt internationals have been the livewires for Liverpool this term, scoring 12 of the Reds’ 24 league goals so far.

Salah was a £36 million summer signing from AS Roma and has lit up the Premier League this term, helping supporters forget his underwhelming stay at Chelsea.

Mohamed Salah Liverpool

Mane is Liverpool’s top scorer since the start of last season with 16 goals to his name, and the Reds’ struggles during his injury absences or suspensions demonstrate just how valuable he is for the Merseysiders.

With the duo contributing so much going forward, despite not being recognised as out-and-out strikers, Klopp has had no need to use a conventional centre-forward domestically. Indeed, Daniel Sturridge and Dominic Solanke-their two recognised strikers-have just two goals between them this term.

The prowess of Mane and Salah was highlighted in Liverpool’s most recent league outings; away to struggling West Ham and at home against Southampton.

In the first match-one of their best displays this term-Salah scored a brace and Mane assisted both goals as the Mersey outfit ran out 4-1 victors.

Sadio Mane Liverpool

Coutinho wasn’t present during the game as he was out with an abductor problem and his absence wasn’t really felt, nor was it in the previous 3-0 win over Huddersfield Town.

The ease with which Liverpool fare without the Brazil international comes in stark contrast to their struggles when Mane isn’t present.

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Coutinho is a fine player, and has dealt admirably with his inabiltiy to secure a move away from Anfield, but recent fixtures demonstrate exactly where he stands in the pecking order at Anfield, even if he did score and contribute an assist against Saints.

 

Salah and Mane in tandem represents not just an effective Plan B for Liverpool, but also an ever-more appealing Plan A as their synergy improves.

Expect Barcelona to return for Coutinho in the transfer windows to come, and while Klopp may still be unwilling to part ways with such a talented individual, the African duo have at least demonstrated that the Reds can thrive without the Brazilian.

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