Eighteen months ago, Barcelona signed a Philippe Coutinho thinking that they had found a long term replacement for club legend Andres Iniesta, who at that time, was well past his prime.
Coutinho, dreaming of becoming a star play-maker in arguably the world’s biggest football club, denied everything that Liverpool had to say, declined everything that Liverpool had to offer, and did everything that he could, to force a move to a place where he felt he could become one of the world’s greatest.
A year later, both Coutinho and Barcelona looked dejected with what they had so desperately wanted a few months ago. For one, Coutinho wasn’t Iniesta, but then for the Brazilian, Barcelona was no Liverpool.
At Liverpool, Coutinho was the most important player. It was the place where he transformed into one of the finest. The fans loved him. The whole team was build around Coutinho. Manager Jurgen Klopp had given him complete freedom to express himself. He had the ball at his feet almost every other pass. He had the liberty to roam in the final third. He could create some magic with the backing he had got.
“no player has lost as much value as Philippe Coutinho did in 2019.”
Come to Barcelona, he was no longer considered the best, yet a lot was expected off him. His role was no longer the same. He played alongside Lionel Messi, perhaps the greatest footballer of all time. People expected Coutinho to be Iniesta. But he wasn’t. Iniesta could find a magical pass almost at will, pop up in the box at dangerous positions and yet get back to defend. He was a complete mid-fielder. Coutinho wasn’t this. He rarely had to get back to defend when he was at Liverpool. Suddenly, he was finding it difficult with the Catalans. Barcelona then tried him as a winger. The Brazilian just didn’t feel home in the Spanish city.
Coutinho felt lost. Barcelona felt robbed. Each of them could not fulfill the other’s expectations.
With the signing of Antoine Griezmann now, the situation of Philippe Coutinho at Barcelona is becoming increasingly ambiguous. Unequivocally, Barcelona do not want him any longer. But he is rarely being approached by any of the other teams. And Barcelona wanting to get as much money out of him as he had cost them isn’t helping the cause.
Barcelona paid an initial fee of €120 million to sign Coutinho from Liverpool 18 months ago, with up to €40m more due in possible add-ons. Sources have told ESPN FC it is going to “take a lot” to find someone willing to pay that much for him now.
Perhaps Liverpool still wanted him. But are they willing to spree cash?
“In general, Coutinho helps each team in the world, still 100%,” Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp was quoted saying. “It’s not about that. I like Phil, I think he’s a fantastic footballer and all that stuff, but it would be a big, big, big, big, big, big, big, big-money signing and it’s not our year for that.
“It’s just not possible. As I said, having him would make each team better — us included — but I really hope that he finds his luck at Barcelona.”
Barca also hoped interest may develop from Manchester United as Paul Pogba looked for a move away from Old Trafford. But with just eight days of transfer activity left in England, Pogab should remain at Old Trafford and United’s might not be as interestd in Coutinho.
Aother option Barcelona have been hopeful of is Paris Saint-Germain. The French transfer window remains open until September 2, ESPN FC earlier this summer, said that Coutinho could be included as a makeweight in a possible deal for Neymar.
However, ESPN FC later told that sources at the Catalan club have said doing a deal for Neymar is looking “very difficult” but they would still be open to selling Coutinho to PSG if they get near the €105m asking price.
Barca, therefore, are increasingly concerned that they will not bring in as much money as they were hoping for this summer. According to another report by ESPN FC, Barcelona had hoped to bring in €150m for Coutinho, Rafinha and Malcom before the end of August.
With Malcom now almost being sold to Zenit and Rafinha bringing interest from Valencia, Coutinho remains one liability.
According to a report, no player has lost as much value as Coutinho did in 2019.
The arrival of fellow Frenchman is reportedly making Ousmane Dembele also stay. With Suarez, Messi, Griezmann and Dembele around, it could be difficult for Coutinho to make it to the team.
Also, with very little interest from around the world, Barcelona might find it difficult to get a decent price off selling the former Liverpool man.
If Neymar’s transfer forced Barcelona to end up paying a lot more than they had expected, the lack of interest in the player can now force them to sell Coutinho at a much lesser price than they are expecting.
But again, the question remains, who wants to buy Philippe Coutinho?