The Catalan superstar has been linked with a move to England but his performance against Lyon in the Champions League helped him get a praise from Ernesto Valverde.
Philippe Coutinho was supposed to be the next big thing for FC Barcelona. Possibly a replacement for Iniesta in the midfield, some people thought. And why wouldn’t they get their hopes up? Barcelona chased the then-Liverpool player for more than a year and eventually signed him for €142m, making him the third most expensive footballer of all time.
The Coutinho Conundrum:
But not everything has gone right for the Brazilian since his dream move in January 2018. Coutinho looked comfortable in the first few months with an exceptional display against Sevilla in the Copa Del Rey final. But in his first full season with the Catalan club, the midfielder has been nowhere near his best. So much so that, there are already rumours about him coming back to England, this time to Manchester United.
But the 26-year old got yet another opportunity to shine against Lyon in the second leg of round of 16 of the Champions League. The tie was evenly poised at 0-0 after the first leg and with a few fitness concerns around Dembele, Coutinho started the game last night.
And Brazilian had a great game and even scored Barcelona’s second goal of the night with the easiest finish possible. That performance has relieved some of the pressure on Coutinho and even Ernesto Valverde was happy with his performance.
“It was an important game for him [Coutinho] as it was for everyone, our club and our team,” Valverde said during his news conference.
“I think he had a great game. It is true maybe this year he’s had some not great matches, but in some specific times he did well, he scored two goals against Sevilla. So, we expect him to get more confidence in order to give us his best. We are happy for him.”
The Catalans won the game 5-1 to enter the quarter-finals for the 12th consecutive time, thanks to two goals and two assists by Lionel Messi. They will now be back in action against Real Betis in La Liga, with the 7-point advantage over the second-placed Atletico Madrid.
Coutinho’s time at Barcelona has been far from a smooth ride. But the Brazilian has shown time and again that he is a world class player. Barcelona need to make sure that they help Coutinho get back to his best. And with Dembele out with an injury for one month, the Brazilian himself will get an opportunity to prove his worth and lock down the place in the playing XI.