Philippe Coutinho
What Ever happened to Philippe Coutinho? (David Ramos)

What Ever happened to Philippe Coutinho?

The picture accompanying this article was one of the first pictures Philippe Coutinho took in Barcelona colors after joining them from Liverpool in January 2018 for £142 million. The beaming smile was apparently the first time he’d smiled in months after being originally denied the move during the summer of 2017. It was a dream move for a player who was lighting up the Premier League and given the amount of money spent it was clear Barcelona saw him as the future of the club. So where did it all go wrong for Philippe?

Well, stumbling block number one was the fact he was signed by Barcelona as a replacement for Andreas Iniesta. As Manchester United fans will tell you, there’s no replacing a legend. They’re still trying to replace Paul Scholes since he retired for the second and final time in 2013. Iniesta is a legend at the club but more importantly, he was one of the best players of his generation. You can’t replace that. Instead of trying to find Coutinho’s niche in the side they went with the experiment which didn’t work and drained the player’s confidence.

Philippe Coutinho
(Soccrates Images/Getty Images)

Number 2 was his character. Apparently, he’s a pushover and gets upset easily. This seems to ring through considering he sulked when his move was initially refused. In Barcelona, you can’t be that way. If you’re not top by fifteen points after week one of the season the fans are on your back. They are passionate but very unrealistic. At Liverpool, while fans dreamt of Premier League success at that point it was still just that… a dream. Their fans are passionate and unrealistic too just not to the same level as Barcelona. Having just under 100,000 fans berating your every touch is a lot different than 50,000.

Lastly, Coutinho went from a team who literally played around him at Liverpool to a team where he was just another player. He was never going to be on the same level as Messi, Busquets and Pique in the hearts of the Nou Camp faithful, whereas at Liverpool he was the star. Jurgen Klopp all but told him this in an attempt to convince him to stay at Anfield.

“Stay here and they will end up building a statue in your honor. Go somewhere else, to Barcelona, to Bayern Munich, to Real Madrid, and you will be just another player. Here you can be something more.” Klopp told Coutinho.

Two years later Liverpool is on the verge of a Premier League title for the first time in their history and first top-flight trophy in thirty years. Coutinho on the other hand is out on loan with Bayern Munich, who apparently has no plans to make the deal permanent, and is being shopped around by Barcelona to help fund a move to bring Neymar back to the Nou Camp. Rumors are circulating that even Tottenham has no interest in signing the Brazilian. That’s how far he’s fallen.

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There’s no doubt that Philippe Coutinho could still be a fantastic player for someone, however, it needs to be the right fit. Barcelona wasn’t. Or at least wasn’t at that time. No matter where he ends up he will not be the star player like he was at Liverpool. Those days are gone.