Spanish giants Barcelona have finally completed that much talked about £146million signing of Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool. The fee is an eye-watering one, but as an Evertonian, the move makes me happy.
One of the main reasons for my happiness at the move is that Coutinho has terrorised us in recent Anfield derbies especially (the last derby withstanding).
I also had a begrudging respect for his ability as a footballer. However, as a fan of a bitter rival, I could not bring myself to enjoy his performances. Coutinho also had this annoying habit of sustaining injuries whenever I picked him for my fantasy team.
I could enjoy him at Barcelona
Now that Coutinho has moved to Barcelona, maybe I can finally appreciate the Brazilian playmaker in the way Liverpool fans did, well for much of his time at the club.
I am a big admirer of the Catalan giants and I have even grown to like former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez since his move to the Blaugrana. Trust me that would not have happened if he had stayed at Liverpool. Philippe Coutinho is a very good player and I have no qualms about that. I hope that he can perform consistently in Catalonia.
A good signing for Barcelona
For me, Coutinho could prove to be a very good signing for Barcelona. Forget the transfer fee. Football is played on paper, not on a balance sheet. That is why football fans have chants for their favourite players and not the clubs accountant.
Coutinho is a very talented footballer and they are adored at Barcelona. The 25-year-old’s attacking versatility could prove the key to his career in the Catalan capital.
In the last few seasons when Barcelona had the MSN of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, it was hard to see where Coutinho would fit in. However, with Neymar now at PSG and Barcelona playing a different formation, the Brazilian could feature in many different roles at the Nou Camp.
The former Liverpool star is the heir to Andres Iniesta says Spanish football expert Guillem Balague. That would mean Coutinho playing in a deeper role in a three-man central midfield maybe.
The Spanish league leaders usually play with Sergio Busquets as the defensive midfielder, with two other central midfielders Ivan Rakitic and Paulinho most notably in recent months. Coutinho has played in a deeper role before for Liverpool, but not on a regular basis. He would have to improve his defensive skill and discipline to play the role on a long-term basis, though.
However, there is also the option of Coutinho playing behind the front two of Messi and Suarez in a diamond formation, fulfilling the number ten role. That sounds like a devastating possibility for opposition defences, but that would mean talented youngster Ousmane Dembele missing out.
Coutinho could also play as part of a front three, out on the left, a position he is accustomed to on Merseyside. However, that again would restrict the game time of Dembele, who is one of the brightest young talents in European football.
Wherever he plays, Coutinho will be an asset for the Spanish League leaders in the coming seasons. He adds attacking quality to a Barcelona squad already filled with talented forward players.
Barcelona are favourites to win La Liga
Barcelona are currently nine points clear of second-place Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga. The Catalan giants are red-hot favourites at odds of 1/33 to win the Spanish title. The signing of Coutinho will only improve their chances of completing the job.
Ernesto Valverde’s side are miles ahead of their rivals in the Spanish top-flight. However, the team does have weaknesses that have been vastly papered over by the brilliance of Lionel Messi this season. Reports coming out of Spain suggest that the likes of Messi and Suarez have been asking the club to sign Coutinho, as they felt the team needed another quality attacking player.
The Brazilian will have to wait slightly longer to make his Barcelona debut. The former Liverpool player is sidelined for around three weeks due to a thigh strain. When he does return, no doubt Barcelona fans and I will be able to enjoy the attacking midfielder’s performances.
Will Philippe Coutinho be a good signing for Barcelona?