28th July – Coutinho to Barca? £70 million bid made

Headline: Liverpool’s Phillipe Coutinho subject to a £70 million bid from Barcelona – SkySportsNews

PHILLIPE COUTINHO – BRAZIL – LIVERPOOL – MIDFIELDER

Liverpool’s summer transfer window has been slightly overshadowed by the growing rumours that star midfielder Philippe Coutinho could be on his way out of Liverpool, despite leading them to Champions League qualification for the first time in three years. Barcelona have been the only major club that have been interested in the Brazilian services, after the Catalan club themselves having a disappointing season last year, surrendering the La Liga title to Real Madrid and also failing to properly compete for the Champions League, with their La Liga rivals also becoming the first team to win the most coveted club trophy in Europe back-to-back since the tournament was renamed. It potentially looks like a match made in heaven, but is there more to this transfer that it seems?

Philippe’s past

Coutinho came through the Vasco de Gama youth side before catching the attention of Inter Milan in 2008, and despite being signed by the then-treble winners, was loaned back to his boyhood team in Brazil for two seasons. After that period of time came to an end, he struggled to hold down a regular spot in the Inter side, making only 28 league appearances in 3 years. In the winter of 2012, he moved to Espanyol on a six-month loan, who were managed by somebody called Mauricio Pochettino, and this was where he made his name for himself in Europe, scoring 5 goals in 16 appearances. Coutinho returned to Inter, but still had a lack of game time in Italian football, making 10 appearances between August and January of 2012, before moving to Liverpool for £8.5 million, aged 20. The Brazilian has been a fan favorite at Anfield, making just under 200 appearances in all competitions, and was named in the PFA Team of the Year for the 2014-15 season. Last year’s campaign was his best goal-scoring season to date, netting 13 league goals, accumulating his Liverpool total to 42 in all competitions.

Where would he fit in at Camp Nou?

Barcelona’s three-pronged attack of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar is not going to be changed or tampered with, so it would be very unlikely that Coutinho would have a regular role on the wing at Camp Nou next season, given that he would also have to compete with summer signing Gerard Deulofeu, as well as established first team back-up players Paco Alcacer and Arda Turan. The midfield is very congested too with Andres Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets being the ever-present midfield combination of last season, as well as the Brazilian having to compete with Sergi Roberto, Denis Suarez, Andre Gomes and Rafinha for a spot on the bench. However, with Ernesto Valverde the new manager of Barcelona, they could change the way they set up next season, so this is how I interpret the move:

So Coutinho being used in a number 10 role could displace Rakitic from the starting eleven, who played 32 games in La Liga last season, scoring 8 goals from a deep-lying midfield position, including a stunning striker against Real Madrid in the Clasico. However, with Rakitic being 29 years-old, is Coutinho the long-term replacement for the Croatian international?

Chances of this transfer happening: 6/10

If Barcelona’s squad stays the same then I’m not sure where Coutinho will fit in Barcelona’s system with the squad depth that the Catalans have, and Liverpool seem very clear with regards to where they stand on their key player. However, when Barcelona come calling, it’s very different to turn them down.

Would he be a good signing: 7/10

If he gets a lot of game time at Camp Nou, then he can be a real success for the club. He’s technically gifted, but has shown he has the physical prowess to compete in the Premier League and for a big club like Liverpool. However, with the way Barcelona operate as a football club, he may not get the minutes.

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