Just over two years ago, people were talking about Philippe Coutinho being a great signing for FC Barcelona. The team was still looking to replace Neymar, who made his big money move to Paris Saint-Germain in the 2017 summer transfer window.
The Brazilan star struggled to adapt at Barcelona, which forced the club to loan him to German giant Bayern Munich. Fast forward to 2020 and now people are questioning if Coutinho can play consistently at one of the biggest clubs in Europe.
The midfielder has made 22 appearances in the Bundesliga, but has not returned to the pitch since the league resumed on May 16. His last appearance for Bayern was on March 8th against FC Augsburg in a 2-0 victory.
It was reported that Coutinho was recovering from an ankle injury that would force him to miss the rest of the Bundesliga campaign.
After leaving Liverpool FC for Barcelona in January of 2018 for up to 142 million euros, it is clear that the midfielder has struggled to retain the same form he had in England.
Coutinho is set to return to his Spanish club when his loan expires after this season, but it may not be in his best interest to stay with Barcelona.
Coutinho is best suited as a center attacking midfielder, and also can be utilized effectively as a left winger. Barcelona play a traditional 4-3-3, which does not include a center attacking midfielder. This leaves the left wing as the only position Coutinho is comfortable playing in.
Currently, Barcelona have plenty of depth in the attacking part of the field. Superstar Lionel Messi typically lines up from the right flank with Luis Suárez taking up his position as their number 9.
The club has 23-year-old Ousmane Dembélé, who joined the club in the summer of 2017. Also, in this past summer transfer window, the club decided to invest 120 million Euros into French forward Antoine Griezmann.
This meant that four quality forwards would be in the Barcelona squad that would be taking away gametime for Coutinho, which is why he was loaned to Bayern Munich.
In his 15 total starts for Bayern in the Bundesliga, he started seven of those as a center attacking midfielder in the 4-2-3-1 formation. Coutinho had eight goals and six assists in the league before suffering from his ankle injury.
With 14 goal contributions in 22 total Bundesliga appearances, the Brazilan showed that he can perform when given the opportunity to play in his best position.
Adding more depth in the attack is something most teams in Europe need to do, and that is no different for Liverpool FC. The English club was targeting RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner, but he recently signed for Chelsea FC.
The current European Champions are still looking to add another attacker in the transfer window and Coutinho already has shown he fits into Liverpool’s system. The Brazilan played for the team from 2013-2018, and current manager Jürgen Klopp was able to get the best out of the midfielder.
In two and a half Premier League seasons at Liverpool under Klopp, Coutinho was a key part of the team’s success. 46 goal contributions over that period of time proved that the Brizlian could be a very predictive midfielder in a good system.
Under Klopp, the team has typically lined up in a 4-3-3 formation, but has shown the ability to adjust.
During the Christmas period in the 2018-2019 season, Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah was struggling to score goals. Klopp and his coaching staff decided to switch to a 4-2-3-1 to give Salah some confidence in front of the net. The forward was played as a sole striker, and it allowed him to gain some much needed confidence during that season.
Those adjustments by the coaching staff show that the team is willing to play a different formation in order to get the best out of their players. Coutinho would be allowed to flourish in multiple positions in a return to Anfield.
At Liverpool, Coutinho could be utilized both as a left winger and a center attacking midfielder. With the team looking to add more depth to their attack, a reunion between both sides could be inevitable this summer.
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