Having made a huge splash to sign Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool, it is fair to say that Barcelona might regret the choice. They chased the player, believed to be the long-term heir to the position that Andres Iniesta occupied in the team. However, despite an impressive first half-season with the club, Coutinho failed to win over key members of the staff at the club – within a short period of time, he was out the door.
A loan to FC Bayern Munich arrived, with the Brazilian enjoying a solid if unspectacular season in Bavaria. Arguably his best game came against his employers, scoring and setting another up in a demolition of Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League. This left a further sour taste in the mouth for both player and coach.
Despite starting the 2020-21 season well, Coutinho soon faded due to injury and loss of form. This led to more debates about his suitability to play for Barca and to compete in a squad that was not built entirely to his whims as it was at Anfield. All summer, the Catalan giants have tried to shift Coutinho with precious few takers – the fee paired with his astronomical wages have made him an almost impossible target.
Now, whether through a need for bodies or an acceptance he will be sticking around, Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has offered a second chance. In a recent press conference, Koeman was diplomatic about the chance of the player being involved moving forward.
With a tough game against Athletic Club coming up at the weekend, Barcelona need a strong start to the season. A win against Real Sociedad on the opening weekend was impressive, but the Catalans now need to keep things progressing – and Coutinho might be needed after all.
What did Ronald Koeman say about Philippe Coutinho?
Though it is likely the Brazilian misses out against Athletic Club at the weekend, he could be involved more moving forward. The transfer window shuts at the end of the month, and with the time needed to make such a major deal not likely to exist anymore it is likely that Coutinho hangs around at the Nou Camp for another season.
Koeman was clear this would likely be the case, saying to the press: “Philippe is out because I think he needs one more week to train with the group before being called up. I do count on him because he is a great player. He can be important for Barca. He started playing last year, then he had an injury. I really count on Coutinho for this season.
“Coutinho can play in various positions. He can play from the left wing. We have lost goals with Messi and we have to look for them in other players. Philippe is one of them.”
Though the Brazilian left a team built around him in Liverpool to join Messi and co. at Barca, he might finally get the chance to see what it looks like when Barcelona runs through him as the protagonist.