Jurgen Klopp would say “I told you so”. The Liverpool manager’s warning to Philippe Coutinho about his move to Barcelona is proving to be true.
From being one of the best players in the world at Liverpool to just another player at Barcelona, the Brazilian has had a tough start to the new season.
After some impressive performances since his arrival last season, Coutinho has struggled to fit into Valverde's tactical designs. And what makes it worse is that since he departed, Liverpool has flourished. Today, they are a far better team than they were 12 months ago, or in other words, they are a better team without him.
Barcelona’s biggest ever signing, the €160m man was the final piece of their jigsaw puzzle. 12 months since his arrival, a fresh move back to the Premier League is already in the news.
So why has the former Liverpool man failed to live up to the hype?
Price. Pressure. Just another player.
When at Barcelona, it is a well-known fact that Lionel Messi is the main man. Everything is built around the Argentine while the others play as the supporting cast.
Coutinho is Barcelona's most expensive signing
At Barcelona, you are always under pressure. But when you are the most expensive signing in the club's history, there is some added pressure. And right now, it looks like the pressure is catching up with the Brazilian.
Andrés Iniesta’s successor
Andrés Iniesta left the club last season
Let's make things clear. Nobody can replace the Spanish legend. But on the basis of natural talent, Coutinho was chosen as the perfect high-profile signing and the right man to replace Iniesta. But there have been a few glimpses of his natural talent so far.
Regarded as the ideal replacement for Iniesta. The comparisons with Iniesta have been a heavy burden for Coutinho to bear. Different types of players with different styles. An error of judgement so far.
The Rise of Ousmane Dembele
Ousmane Dembele has displaced Coutinho in recent months
Nobody has been hurt more than Coutinho by the resurgence of Ousmane Dembele, who has had his fair of criticisms early in his Barcelona career.
With thirteen goals and five assists, the Frenchman has pushed himself into contention for a first-team spot over the last few months and it looks like Dembele has taken Neymar’s place on the left of the trident.
Change in position
With Valverde abandoning the 4-4-2 for the 4-3-3, Coutinho has found himself playing as a left-winger. Some say he is not suited to play on the wings due to his lack of pace while some argue that he is not suited to their midfield due to his lack of defensive contribution.
So what is Coutinho's best position? An interior in midfield or as part of the attack? Neither one really. His preferred position is that of a number 10, a position that could never be his because it is reserved for the number 10 himself, Lionel Messi.