It’s been a tough couple of years for Philippe Coutinho. Bayern Munich don’t appear to be keen on keeping hold of him permanently, and nor do his parent club.
After earning himself a ‘dream’ £142m move to Barcelona in January 2018, his former club Liverpool have gone from strength to strength, while he has struggled to make an impression at his new home.
Barça are now keen to offload the Brazilian, with a source confirming to 90min that this is the case because they are looking to free up funds for new arrivals. Liverpool do have first refusal, but they are unlikely to take up this option.
As a result, with his future unclear, Coutinho has been linked with just about every club in Europe. The likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham appear the most likely destinations, while Manchester United (somehow), Leicester, Everton and the soon-to-be financial powerhouse that is Newcastle United have all supposedly expressed an interest.
But is it really the best thing for Barça to be offloading Coutinho?
The club paid somewhere around £142m for his services, and are now looking to move him on potentially on loan with an option to buy, or permanently if the right offer were to come in. The Catalan club are hoping for an offer of around the £100m mark.
The likelihood of a club conjuring up such a sum is highly unlikely, however, especially in the current financial climate. A loan would make more sense, but La Blaugrana would still take a major loss from his departure. Considering all the financial uncertainty at Barcelona as well as the political tension and overall problems, it would be illogical to part ways with Coutinho in the summer window.
And this is especially the case, considering the club’s ambitions to bring in Lautaro Martinez, with Inter and Barça said to have ‘finally’ agreed a €60m fee as well as two players in exchange. Offloading Coutinho for far less than his actual market value would be detrimental and counter-productive. Instead, Barça should look to utilise him next season because he is just what they need.
Yes, Coutinho has struggled since his move, there’s no denying that, but Barcelona have had their faults this season – a lot of them – and notably, they’re in need of creativity and a link between the midfield and attack. There aren’t many better players than Coutinho in that department.
Arthur Melo’s future appears uncertain and so does Arturo Vidal’s, while Ivan Rakitic is at ‘war’ with the club – therefore, the squad could potentially be trimmed this summer without too many arrivals coming in. Coutinho, however, brings versatility, creativity, skill, vision and much more. Yet to work under Quique Setén, this could be just the clean slate the former Liverpool man requires in order to rediscover his best form.
Not only that, Setién’s style of play would suit Coutinho, and he could have a major impact on the team should he be given the chance. The former Betis boss’ men play intricate passing, giving and going, trying to find the pockets of space to break down the opponent. However, there has been a distinct lack of creativity, while there has also been an over-reliance on the great Lionel Messi to simply work his magic.
This season, Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele, Sergio Busquets, Frenkie de Jong, Vidal, Arthur and Rakitic have managed just 16 assists between them. As for goals, these same seven players have managed just 22 goals in La Liga.
With Bayern Munich in 2019/20, Coutinho has managed nine goals and eight assists in 32 appearances in all competitions. But it is worth noting that only 22 of these appearances have come from the start. This hasn’t been deemed good enough for Bayern to part ways with around €120m to make the move permanent – and rightly so.
But while Coutinho’s main problem on loan this season has been consistency, it is clear to see the creativity and quality he brings to any team. With Setién’s philosophy, Coutinho could be deployed on either the left or as an attacking midfielder, providing the link between the midfield and the attack.
While the attackers would thrive off his vision and passing, Coutinho himself would also be able to get forward and try his luck from distance or in and around the edge of the box. This has been another problem for Barça, and Coutinho could be just the solution.
The 27-year-old has already shown the Barça faithful what he can bring to the team, grabbing eight goals and five assists in just 16 starts after first completing his move to the club. Not to mention the stunning performances he put in to entice La Blaugrana into signing him for such a hefty amount in the first place.
Barcelona are in need of a Philippe Coutinho-type player, someone to help alleviate the pressure on Messi and create the right balance in the team. Coutinho can be exactly this man, he just needs Setién to show the necessary faith in him, allowing him to start enjoying playing his football again and in turn, rediscovering his best form.
From an economical standpoint, selling Coutinho doesn’t make sense. From a footballing standpoint, it doesn’t make sense either. If given the opportunity, Coutinho could be just the man Barça are crying out for.
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