Newcastle United appear to have dodged a bullet regarding their failure to sign Brazil international Philippe Coutinho, with the 30-year-old having endured an underwhelming start to the new season at current side Aston Villa.
The former Barcelona playmaker had previously been heavily linked with a move to St James’ Park prior to the winter window, with it looking as if the 69-cap gem would be the first high-profile addition of the new PIF era.
While no January move came to fruition, there were further reports towards the tail end of last season that suggested that the Magpies could try and hijack Villa’s permanent deal for the one-time Liverpool man, albeit with the player ultimately opting to join the Midlands side for a fee of around £17m.
That switch looked like a real coup for Steven Gerrard and co at the time, although the early signs are that it could well prove to be something of a mistake for the former European champions, with those back on Tyneside perhaps thankful that they failed to strike an agreement.
While the new campaign is still in its infancy, the £18m-rated man has failed to score nor register a single assist in the Premier League thus far, having previously scored five goals and laid on three assists in just 19 games in the second half of last season after joining on loan.
Amid the current collective struggles at Villa Park, one issue has been just how to get the Brazilian into the starting lineup, with the creative midfielder seemingly vying for a regular berth alongside Emi Buendia.
Having such a marquee name resigned to the bench – with just three top-flight starts to his name so far – is not an ideal situation for Gerrard and co, although it represents just how disappointing the former Anfield hero has been of late.
Pundit Kevin Phillips had previously suggested that dishing out such a hefty wage could well cause a “problem” in the Villa dressing room, with such a disparity between him and the rest potentially a source of disruption.
Those at Newcastle having seemingly been careful not to cause their own problems by astutely walking away from deals due to exorbitant wage demands, with Coutinho’s arrival likely to have unbalanced what appears to be a harmonious squad at Howe’s disposal.
It may seem bizarre to say of a player who was previously dubbed a “creative genius” by Sky Sports pundit Phil Thompson and once cost a reported £142m following his move to the Camp Nou, yet it could well have been a bullet dodged for Newcastle by not signing the seemingly fading force.