It’s been close to four years since Philippe Coutinho made his debut for Liverpool, and pretty soon he’ll become the top scoring Brazilian player in Premier League history, which is kind of odd when you first think about, but really isn’t when you look at the players who have come before.
At this point, Coutinho has 26 league goals for Liverpool since joining them in January of 2013. More of a passer and set-up man during his first two years at the club, Coutinho has become a much more integral piece of the scoring job at Anfield since Jurgen Klopp has arrived. He finished with 8 league goals last season, his best tally in England. After 10 league matches this season, he already has five.
Who is in front of Coutinho? None other than Juninho Paulista, the Sao Paulo-born playmaker who made a name for himself with the Brazilian national team (49 caps) and played for Middlesbrough in three different stints: 1995-1997, 1999-2000 and 2002-2004. Retired since 2010, Juninho is still regarded as the finest player in the history of Middlesbrough, or at least its best foreign player.
Juninho, like Coutinho, was never known for his goalscoring skills. However, during Boro’s relegation season in 1996-1997 he finished with 10 league goals and overall, in five-ish seasons with the club, he has 27 league goals for the team in 126 appearances. Coutinho is at 26 goals after 118 appearances, so considering his upgraded pace so far in 2016 and his overall average, it’s safe to say it won’t be long before he matches the record and breaks it.
When you look at the list of Brazilian footballers who have played in the Premier League, regardless of the current issues Brazilian football is having, you find out that it’s mostly been defensive midfielders, defenders and perhaps goalkeepers who made their mark. Attacking players? Hard to find. Ronaldinho almost signed with Manchester United in 2003 but ended up going to Barcelona and perhaps changing the course of history. Jo never made his mark at Manchester City or Everton. Oscar started out well at Chelsea but has lost his place in the lineup, and is usually deployed in more tactical roles. Willian is an attacking player, but not a great scorer, with 13 goals in 104 league matches for Chelsea.
One Brazilian player who might end up eclipsing Coutinho, and perhaps not too far down the road, is Roberto Firmino. The former Hannover star has scored 15 goals in 41 league matches for Liverpool since joining in 2015 is flourishing under Klopp’s system, and usually plays a lot closer to the goal than Coutinho. They both have five league goals this season and it’s hard to say one is a better finisher than the other but based solely on averages and numbers, at some point, Firmino will become the top scorer among Brazilians in the Premier League.