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Oct 16, 2019


 Was it Wise for Barcelona to Loan Out Philippe Coutinho?


Philippe Coutinho has rapidly established himself as the best player in the Bundesliga after joining Bayern Munich on loan from Barca. The former Liverpool man struggled to make an impact at Camp Nou following his £142 million move last year.


Barcelona tried to sell him in the summer, but they could not find anyone willing to meet his price tag, so they decided to loan him out to Bayern. Coutinho has rediscovered his very best form at the German club, scoring twice and providing three assists in the early stages of the campaign, and generally dazzling with his brilliance on the ball.





Bayern are the heavy favourites at top sports betting sites like Bookmaker to win the Bundesliga yet again this season. That is largely down to the form displayed by Coutinho, who has filled the void left by the departures of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery this summer. The Brazilian playmaker has slotted seamlessly into the Bayern team, playing a key role in building their attacks and producing strong stats in key metrics like pass completion, progressive runs, chances created and shots on target.


It suggests that he was not utilised correctly during his ill-fated 18-month spell at Camp Nou. Coutinho did manage to score 21 goals and provide 11 assists in 76 games – and he has two league winners’ medals to show for it – but he was never really allowed to operate in his favoured position. He was either shunted out on the wing, where he was not really able to pull the strings, or he had to play too deep in the midfield. Coutinho operates best in the number 10 role, behind the main striker, but Ernesto Valverde never really gave him a chance to play there.


In fairness, that has never been Barcelona’s system. They play a 4-3-3, with the midfield triumvirate lying deeper in support of the forwards, and Lionel Messi marching about the pitch wreaking havoc. Perhaps Coutinho will never fit in at Barca, but the club have sent representatives to Germany to watch his games, following his strong start to life in Bavaria.


Bayern have the option to buy him for €120 million at the end of the season, but Barcelona might end up fighting to keep him after all. Messi is 32 now and he has missed much of the current campaign with injuries. Barca have struggled in his absence, and he will not be around to lead this team to glory forever. Coutinho is 27, in the prime of his career, and he has the potential to be the world’s best playmaker. Barcelona could yet build the team around his talents, with Frenkie de Jong and a holding midfielder sitting in behind.


He is likely to surpass the achievements of James Rodriguez at the Allianz Arena, after making a more impressive start to life in the Bundesliga. Rodriguez is now back in the Real Madrid team, and Coutinho’s career could follow a similar trajectory. Barca could certainly have done with a player of his quality when they were struggling to create chances during defeats against Granada and Atheltic Bilbao in the early stages of the season.


Bayern know what a quality player they have on their hands. “The Bundesliga is getting a sensational player that can take our team to a whole new level,” said sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić after the club handed Coutinho the iconic number 10 shirt. He’ll put our other attacking players in good positions and can score himself too. We are more versatile and we have more options with him in the team. We have a truly spectacular player in our ranks.”


Coutinho was probably the best player in the Premier League before joining Barcelona, and he has already established himself as head and shoulders above his peers in the Bundesliga. He has also played really well on the international stage for Brazil, so it is puzzling to recall his struggles at Barca. Perhaps if he was given a second chance, and utilised in a role more suited to his talents, then he could show Barcelona fans what he is really made of.



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