Name: Philippe Coutinho
Date of Birth: 12 June 1992
Position: Attacking midfielder, left-winger
Philippe Coutinho’s dream move to Barcelona soon turned into a real nightmare. The Brazilian became Barcelona’s most expensive signing in the history of the club when he was transferred from Liverpool but soon, both parties realised Coutinho and Barca don’t exactly fit. But his sudden and quite unexpected fall from grace doesn’t mean his career thus far is unremarkable or unimpressive.
The now 28-year-old attacking midfielder started his footballing journey back home in Brazil, playing for Vasco da Gama, first in the Brazilian Serie B and then the Serie A. But it wouldn’t take long for the European giants to take notice of the flamboyant player that was starting to emerge from the youth squads and Inter Milan were the first one take a gamble.
In the summer of 2008, the 16-year-old Coutinho would pack his bags and head for Europe. In Italy, he would end up playing a total of 47 games for the Nerazzurri, scoring five and assisting four more. However, during the 2011/12 season, the Brazilian was loaned out to Espanyol in Catalonia, not knowing the winds of fate would take him across town to their mortal enemies in the not so distant future.
He was promptly returned to Inter having scored five goals and assisted one in 15 appearances for club, and in January 2013, his £8.5m transfer to Liverpool was announced. The best and brightest moments in Coutinho’s career indeed happened at Anfield and it is there, under both Brendan Rodgers and Jurgen Klopp, that he would ultimately establish himself as one of the world’s best.
His debut came on 11 February 2013 in a defeat to West Bromwich Albion and the first goal for the Reds followed suit as the Brazilian rattled the inside of the opposition’s net on his full debut in a 5–0 romp of Swansea City on 17 February.
In 201 games played for the Merseyside team, Coutinho would end up scoring 54 goals and assisting 45 before he realised his childhood dream of joining Barcelona. But, as we now know, that would end in misery and the Brazilian would get labelled a flop following a rather poor stint in the Catalan capital.
And while 26 goals and 11 assists in 76 games is not necessarily a terrible record, his failure to get used to the new style, pressure and expectations of his immense price tag, Coutinho would eventually depart for Bayern Munich on a one-season loan deal, spending the whole 2019/20 in Bavaria.
There, he tallied nine goals and eight assists across 34 matches but will now be returning to his parent club ahead of the new campaign, his future yet to be fully decided.
Needless to say, there have been plenty of transfer rumours surrounding Coutinho in recent times. Ever since his struggles at Barcelona first became apparent, the transfer news haven’t exactly stopped. The latest ones, however, are linking him with a move to Arsenal of all places.
Some of the reports state the Gunners have been talking to his agent and are interested in acquiring the Brazilian’s services. Of course, there were some Barcelona news that came out of Catalonia straight after that and it seems they will demand a hefty transfer fee or a big loan fee if they are to part with their man.
Neither of those, however, seem like acceptable terms for Arsenal and it remains to be seen what the future holds for the midfielder. Some transfer rumours were linking him with numerous top Premier League clubs as well and as it currently stands, he won’t be short of offers come the summer transfer window.
Even though he has been struggling as of late, Coutinho is still very much a magical player on his day. The midfielder has impeccable ball control, a good eye for a brilliant pass and a deadly right foot. Usually, he will be deployed on the left side of the pitch, either to cut centrally and advance through the half-space and then shoot from range, or as an attacking midfielder, slotting behind the striker in a free-roam role.
Either way, he is a creative and highly offensive outlet who can destabilise teams from range or simply wreak havoc in the final third with his passing and dribbling skills. Of course, he is not without faults and it very much feels he’s a player who fits only certain systems, the ones that are willing to adjust to him, rather than the other way around.