Philippe Coutinho’s second-half performance against Huesca on the weekend showed that even though the former Liverpool star does not produce regular goals, he does contribute tactically towards the build-up of play in crucial moments.
Being FC Barcelona’s most anticipated signing of the 2017/18 season, Philippe Coutinho had high expectations set around his already brilliant profile. With 54 goals scored for Liverpool, the Brazilian was already showing potential to what could be the biggest transfer of his career. £142 million cashed in and Barça had their new number 14, number 7 starting in the 2018/19 season.
La Liga Experience:
Many were sceptical about the straight move from the English Premier League to La Liga. Both leagues are very different in styles of football, the obvious being physicality and workload per match. La Liga is known for it’s passionate, short passing and play-to-the-final-minute philosophy, while EPL is very much slow build up, long balls and defensive. Coutinho has proven that he can play both. Before his move to Liverpool, the Brazilian had a season-long loan spell to Catalan rivals Espanyol, where he scored 5 goals in 16 appearances. This helped him in the long run as he adapted to the league very quickly after his move to Barça.
Brazilian style of play is very easy to adapt to any style of football. Skilful antics on the ball, weaving past defenders and an easy eye for 20-yard screamers, the ‘ginga’ which Brazilian footballers carry through their blood is mesmerising. Coutinho has used this to his advantage and won the fans hearts by simply cutting inside to release a beautifully executed shot into the top righthand corner. His signature goal.
At Barça, it’s easy to be outplayed and overshadowed by players like Messi, Suarez, Dembélé and the rest of the star-studded team, but the 26-year old has shown no signs of nerves, especially considering he has taken up a very important position, left winger, once graced by his Selecão compatriot Neymar. He hasn’t been shy of scoring since joining the blaugranas. In under 7 months with the Catalan side, with already 11 goals and 7 assists in all competitions, Coutinho continues to show that he is becoming a key factor in Barça’s new era of stars.
With him being just under a year at the club, it is not a shock that he wasn’t chosen to be one of Barça’s four captains for the 2018/19 season. But should Coutinho take up more responsibility? Already on corner kick duty, there has been debate around the lack of free kicks from him. A free kick given outside the penalty area on the left flank screams Coutinho territory. Number one on the current list of right-footed free-kick takers has been Luis Suarez, but should Valverde look into switching it up, knowing how accurate Coutinho is from range?
I believe the best is yet to come from our Little Magician. With the rest of the season ahead, and this being his first time to play in the Champions League with Barça, not being eligible last season, Coutinho can play a key role in the team’s plans to lift the CL trophy, and even better, the treble.