Philippe Coutinho; The Star in Koeman’s Big Project? or FLOP 2.0 ?

11 min read
Coutinho in Koeman Universe

Coutinho in Koeman Universe

Barcelona invested the record-breaking transfer fee in bringing the Brazilian to Camp nou. The Brazillian was awaited to make a pivotal impact in the club, but things have not gone as per the expectation so far. It is still a subject of debate that did he fail as a player or did Valverde fail as a coach to manoeuvre the little magician and make best out of him. Now every one fascinates will he be the Star in Koeman’s big project or will it be FAILURE 2.0 for Coutinho.

The RISE OF A BRAZILIAN KID

Coutinho began playing futsal during his early childhood with his elder brothers. Later he got noticed by the coach of club Vasco Da Gama and he ushered him to their youth team. Coutinho was bought for €4 million by Inter in July 2008, but he continued with the same team there on loan for the next two years. Coutinho was first called for the national duty for Brazil U-15 team. He also played for U-17 and 20 and netted six goals for Brazil. 

Once in 2010, the chairman of Inter, Massimo Moratti, said, “Coutinho is the future of Inter”. He scored a brilliant freekick for Inter against Fiorentina as his first goal. Later, he was sent on loan to Espanyol where he scored five goals in 16 appearances playing under the coach Mauricio Pochettino.

His football career changed forever when he chooses to play for the English giant Liverpool over Southampton in January 2013, when both of the clubs were keen to sign him.

PLAYING STYLE

The 28 years old is recognized for his position in the central and attacking midfield. The combination of passing, vision, pace, agility long balls, ability to dribble and long-range curving shots has built him one of the best midfielders of his generation.

Seven opponents pressing Coutinho
Seven opponents pressing Philippe Coutinho (Via Bundesliga)

Coutinho is also well known for his signature curving shot. He has scored many unsaveable goals in the top corner of the goal post from outside the box with the right foot by cutting inside from the left-wing. 

The making of Curve-shot
The making of Curve-shot
The making of Curve-shot
The making of Curve-shot
The making of Curve-shot
The making of Curve-shot
The making of curve shot

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He tends to pick up most of his moves from left to the central spots. He has excellent spatial awareness in and outside the box. Coutinho mostly played from the depth in Liverpool that almost every attack started from him. He also resists the opponent’s press and creates an essential link between the team’s offence and defence from a centre line. 

His one-on-one take-on ability has always ameliorated the team to set up an attack with full pressure on the opponent’s defence. His versatility has made himself capable of playing in a different position, but the best version for his style of playing is a typical ‘Number 10’.

“THE LITTLE MAGICIAN” OF LIVERPOOL

Liverpool bought the Brazilian from inter at £8.5 million on 26 January 2013. He got the number 10 shirt and made his debut on 11 February. In his second month of debut at Liverpool, he impressed the reds and won the Player of The Month for March. He became the star of Liverpool in few years and won the heart of Liverpool fans around the globe and earned his nickname as “The Little Magician” from the fans.

During the season 2014-15, Coutinho enticed the football world by his creative vision playing from the central midfield. In the same year, Coutinho was listed in the ‘PFA Team of the Year’ and was the only player from the reds to be named in the same. He lost the PFA Player of the year to Eden Hazard and PFA young player of the year to Spurs’s stars Harry Kane. During 2015-16, Coutinho won the ‘Man of the Match’ for the consecutive three matches. Coutinho overpassed Juninho as the Brazillian all-time top scorer in the history of Premier League after his 30th-minute strike against Stoke City.

Chances created by Coutinho for Liverpool during 2017-18
Chances created by Coutinho for Liverpool during 2017-18 (via: Statsbomb)

Coutinho was linked with the several speculations about the move to Barcelona since the start of the season 2014-15. Liverpool rejected numbers of the bid from Barcelona during that time. However, Liverpool could not resist the transfer when Coutinho himself forced the transfer and wanted to play for his dream club, the Spanish giants Barcelona, with a record-breaking transfer fee of £160 million.

WHAT WENT WRONG AT BARCELONA?

Coutinho made his debut for Barcelona on 25 January 2018 in the Copa Del Rey quarter-final against his former club Espanyol. The Brazilian has failed to perform in the level he used to deliver for Liverpool. With his inconsistent deliveries, Ernesto Valverde hesitated to keep him in the starting eleven and benched him for several occasions.

Some pundits have even analyzed his failure due to his similar style and position with Messi and his altered responsibilities in the team. A Dutch midfielder, Ronald De Boer said with talkSPORT,

“If one is not doing it it’s fine maybe, they can handle that, but if it’s two similar types of players, that they also want every ball and have that special position in the team, then you see how vulnerable a team can be.”

“I think we saw that with Barcelona. There’s only one that can do that now, and that is Messi.”, he said.

“I think Coutinho is an unbelievable player, but sometimes he doesn’t fit the puzzle, and maybe with another club, it will perfectly go well.”

“It doesn’t mean he is a bad player. It doesn’t mean that you are not a great player when you can’t play for Barcelona – no.”, he added.

In fact, Messi has the role in the team that Coutinho would love to succeed, a prerogative role from the centre line to the attack. However, with the reluctance of the coach, Valverde, to give him an absolutely new role has made him difficult to cope with the changes and shattered his dream to play the best for the club. 

He had been exceptional in Liverpool, especially in the build-up of the game through the centre line. He used to be a special threat also in the final third. But Valverde has placed him in the role of a winger, which is absolutely not his priority of style and a position that he would never be able to manifest his best.

For the failure of Coutinho in Barcelona, many people have blamed Valarde for deploying him in the wrong position. Valverde was sacked by the club on 13 January 2020. Valverde failed absurdly in the UCL campaign by leaving the club in the absolute humiliation. So, it would not be quite illogical to say, Coutinho only failed under Valverde, but he may burgeon under some other like Koeman. It is because Valverde himself has failed as a coach and sacked by the club.

        <h4>LOANEE TO THE BAVARIAN</h4>     
    <p>The 28 years old who is expected to be a pivot man in 'Koeman Universe' was loaned out to the German Club Bayern Munich for the last season. The Brazilian has netted 11 goals and assisted 9 in his 38 appearances for Bayern Munich including two goals and one assist against Barcelona in the UCL quarter-final in the last season. Though the numbers are quite impressive, he has not been able to impress the Bavarian due to which Bayern ruled out the purchase option. </p>        
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                                    <img width="640" height="488" src="https://barcatimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/bundesliga-heat-manp-19-20-1024x781.jpg" alt="Coutinho&#039;s heat-map in Bundesliga 2019-20." srcset="https://i0.wp.com/barcatimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/bundesliga-heat-manp-19-20.jpg?resize=1024%2C781&amp;ssl=1 1024w, https://i0.wp.com/barcatimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/bundesliga-heat-manp-19-20.jpg?resize=300%2C229&amp;ssl=1 300w, https://i0.wp.com/barcatimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/bundesliga-heat-manp-19-20.jpg?resize=768%2C586&amp;ssl=1 768w, https://i0.wp.com/barcatimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/bundesliga-heat-manp-19-20.jpg?resize=90%2C68&amp;ssl=1 90w, https://i0.wp.com/barcatimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/bundesliga-heat-manp-19-20.jpg?resize=112%2C84&amp;ssl=1 112w, https://i0.wp.com/barcatimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/bundesliga-heat-manp-19-20.jpg?resize=356%2C272&amp;ssl=1 356w, https://i0.wp.com/barcatimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/bundesliga-heat-manp-19-20.jpg?resize=470%2C359&amp;ssl=1 470w, https://i0.wp.com/barcatimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/bundesliga-heat-manp-19-20.jpg?resize=70%2C53&amp;ssl=1 70w, https://i0.wp.com/barcatimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/bundesliga-heat-manp-19-20.jpg?resize=100%2C76&amp;ssl=1 100w, https://i0.wp.com/barcatimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/bundesliga-heat-manp-19-20.jpg?resize=150%2C114&amp;ssl=1 150w, https://i0.wp.com/barcatimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/bundesliga-heat-manp-19-20.jpg?w=1071&amp;ssl=1 1071w" sizes="(max-width: 640px) 100vw, 640px" />                                         <figcaption>Coutinho's heat-map in Bundesliga 2019-20.  (via: sofascore)</figcaption>
                                    </figure>
    <p>The Brazillian has an average rating of 7.34 (Cr: Avg, Sofa Score Rating)during the season in Bundesliga with Bayern. The problem with Coutinho, as explained by the Bayern president, is his inconsistency.

However, on many occasions, he has been a genius playmaker with outstanding ball control. He has a great mind to read the games and always keeps an insight into the clear overview of the game. Coutinho has delivered some impressive moves for Bayern during the season.

bayern 2
Coutinho’s Assist to Lewandowski in an extreme pressure. (via: Bundesliga)

Coutinho is a mastermind in terms of creating spaces and beating the opponents’ defence. He attracts the opponents’ defence with his possession and takes on them to create a space to the striker and makes an accurate assist for an easy finish. Following is his one of his perfect passes and anticipations to assist the goal for Gnabry which was hugely praised.

Perfectly anticipated assist by Coutinho to Gnabry's Goal.
Perfectly anticipated assist by Coutinho to Gnabry’s Goal. (via: Bundesliga)

Despite his inconsistent performance as a loanee in Bayern’s shirt, he has improved as a player and became the vital part of winning the treble including the UEFA Champions League 2019-20.

LISBON, PORTUGAL - AUGUST 23: Philippe Coutinho of Bayern Muenchen celebrates with the trophy during the UEFA Champions League Final match between Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich at Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica on August 23, 2020 in Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by M. Donato/FC Bayern via Getty Images)
LISBON, PORTUGAL – AUGUST 23: Philippe Coutinho of Bayern Muenchen celebrates with the trophy during the UEFA Champions League Final match between Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich at Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica on August 23, 2020 in Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by M. Donato/FC Bayern via Getty Images)
WOLFSBURG, GERMANY - JUNE 27: Philippe Coutinho of FC Bayern Muenchen lifts the trophy to celebrate the championship following  the Bundesliga match between VfL Wolfsburg and FC Bayern Muenchen at Volkswagen Arena on June 27, 2020 in Wolfsburg, Germany. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
WOLFSBURG, GERMANY – JUNE 27: Philippe Coutinho of FC Bayern Muenchen lifts the trophy to celebrate the championship following the Bundesliga match between VfL Wolfsburg and FC Bayern Muenchen at Volkswagen Arena on June 27, 2020 in Wolfsburg, Germany. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 04:  Philippe Coutinho of FC Bayern Muenchen lifts the DFB Cup winners trophy in celebration after the DFB Cup final match between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and FC Bayern Muenchen at Olympiastadion on July 04, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY – JULY 04: Philippe Coutinho of FC Bayern Muenchen lifts the DFB Cup winners trophy in celebration after the DFB Cup final match between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and FC Bayern Muenchen at Olympiastadion on July 04, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
LISBON, PORTUGAL - AUGUST 14: Philippe Coutinho of FC Bayern Munich scores his team's eighth goal during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final match between Barcelona and Bayern Munich at Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica on August 14, 2020 in Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by Manu Fernandez/Pool via Getty Images)
LISBON, PORTUGAL – AUGUST 14: Philippe Coutinho of FC Bayern Munich scores his team’s eighth goal during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final match between Barcelona and Bayern Munich at Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica on August 14, 2020 in Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by Manu Fernandez/Pool via Getty Images)

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RETURN TO CAMP NOU: THE STAR IN KOEMAN’S BIG PROJECT ? OR FLOP 2.0 ?

With the arrival of the new coach in Barcelona, Koeman, many pundits are of the view that the Brazilian shall be welcomed back in the Koeman’s project and be provided with the second chance. Koeman has called Coutinho and has already conveyed his plans for the future as he is counting on him for next season. Coutinho is expected to perform his best and regain his extraordinary form back in a Koeman universe.

https://twitter.com/BarcaTimes/status/1297518026921775104?s=20

More than anything, what it matters is the intention of players to play for the club. Coutinho is the man who has always dreamed of playing for the Balgaurana. Recently, he has expressed with various reports that he wants to return with greater joy.

After his first-ever Champions League win, Coutinho told with the Sport Bild,

“I am overjoyed with this title. It was my last game in this jersey.”

“I will work to ensure that I can do things that haven’t happened before next season.”

“I am returning to Barcelona with a lot of enthusiasm. It was always the club I dreamed of playing for”, he added.

                                                        -Coutinho.

The 28 years old won the treble while on loan at the Bavarians in the last season. He made a quite impressive campaign there. So it can be anticipated that he will recoup his masterclass under Koemand and be paramount in his project.

As per reports from various outlets, Messi has made his mind to leave Barcelona. It would surely be the worst nightmare for any cules around the globe. It is quite obvious that any other player in the world can never replace the void that would be left in the Barca team after his goodbye. 

                        <figure>
                                    <img src="https://barcatimes.com/wp-content/uploads/elementor/thumbs/118603910_2714930042126060_3893970336317183920_o-ouqb5af62vu95w1vsyv6t8v34nu4ze0f50rrbarq7c.jpg" title="118603910_2714930042126060_3893970336317183920_o" alt="Lionel Messi linked with transfer to an English Club Manchester City." />                                           <figcaption>A potrait explaining that the argued GOAT Lionel Messi linked with transfer to an English Club Manchester City.</figcaption>
                                    </figure>
    <p>However, if in case it happens, it can be expected that Coutinho can step into his shoes along with his teammate Griezman and maintain the legacy by operating in his position. Because after all, what he was known for in Liverpool was the same position that Messi has been playing for Barcelona. However, on the other hand, agent <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kia_Joorabchian" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Kia Joorabchian</a> once expressed that returning the premier league would also be the priority of Coutinho.

“After the Champions League, it’s not been a secret that he wants to come back to the Premier League if he can; he loves playing in the Premier League and is adored in the Premier League”, he said to talkSport.

“It is one of his priorities but he is also not against staying at Barcelona, so it is very much open.”

“There is much genuine interest in Philippe because he is a great player and a big success. There is always interest.”, he added.

Koeman’s Project in Barcelona

After the 8-2 humiliation of Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-final, Quique Setién, the manager of Barcelona was sacked by the board. Ronald Koeman has been appointed as the new coach. He has been entrusted with rebuilding the squad and bringing Barcelona back to its glory. His project is to bring the quality football back in the Camp Nou and win trophies for them. And the dutchman left his position of head coach of Netherland to take this task.

gettyimages 1228116804 2048x2048 1
Barcelona’s new Dutch coach Ronald Koeman during his official presentation at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on August 19, 2020. (Photo by Urbanandsport/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The basis of this project is to push the heavyweights of Barcelona in the market and develop a team with young talents. Players such as Ivan Rakitic, Arturo Vidal, Sergio Busquets and Luis Suarez will be sold or be provided with a less-important role in the team. These departures of the heavyweights will also allow Coutinho to get the critical place in the team. Koeman has also shown interest in him and decided to make him part of his project.

However, there have been some twist in the story. One of the presidential candidates of Football Club Barcelona, Victor Font has expressed his opinion that he is keen to bring Xavi as a Barcelona’s coach. It has been one of his agendas. So he does not look interested with any of the Koeman’s project in Barcelona. Therefore, any of these said projects of Koeman will go on vain if he wins the election.

“He arrives for a project with no structure and no future. It’s a risk that should be avoided. If we come out on top (in the elections), we will not bet on him as our manager,” told Font to RAC1 radio.

Coutinho has also been linked with various rumoured interest from Newcastle, Arsenal, Tottenham and also Liverpool. Despite the rumours, Coutinho has been counted by the new man in charge, Koeman. It would be a sagacious resolution for Coutinho to work along with them and seek his fortune once again in the Balgaurana colours.

IN CLOSING​

Anyone who has witnessed the masterclass playing of the “Little Magician” in Liverpool under the German proponent of ‘Gegenpressing’ philosophy, Jürgen Klopp, would never stop believing Philippe Coutinho.

It will be interesting to see how he will fit himself in Koeman’s Project, or he will witness FLOP 2.0 of himself. Maybe Coutinho has not forgotten the whistles and boos from his own Barcelona fans when he was having a bad time in Barcelona. Being a fan of this beautiful game it is an act of high esteem to hod up and endear own players in such hard times. Let’s wait for his homecoming and hope for his masterclass in Koeman’s Big Project.

 

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