THE RISE AND FALL OF COUTINHO


Abutu Simon

Philippe Coutinho has turned to German giants Bayern Munich as he hopes to rebuild his shattered careeer.

The former Liverpool ace, who joined Barcelona for £142m in January 2018, was courted by Premier League clubs, with Spurs and Arsenal reportedly circling for his signature.

Philippe Coutinho is an outcast at Barcelona wanted by Arsenal and Tottenham

But he has finally ended his nightmare spell in Barcelona with a loan move to Bayern Munich.

Bayern will pay £7.78million to take the forward on a season-long loan with the option to make the move permanent next summer for £110m.

In truth, the Brazilian midfielder has been a shadow of the man that terrorised defenders at Anfield.

Bought as a replacement for the legendary Spanish playmaker Andres Iniesta, he always had big boots to fill.

But the Spanish press soon labelled Coutinho, 27, a flop that Barca manager Ernesto Valverde doesn’t trust because he fears the pressure of his massive transfer fee.

It’s never been this bad for the man they call the ‘Little Magician.’

BOY FROM BRAZIL

Born and raised in Rio’s northern Rocha district between an old shanty town and industrial warehouses, Coutinho was a prodigious talent with the ball as a kid.

Alongside his brothers Cristiano and Leandro, he honed his skills playing futsal on a local concrete football pitch.

With its frenetic pace, emphasis on first touch, it proved to be the making of the young Coutinho who had to learn to work in tight spaces on the futsal field.

He was soon spotted by scouts at Vasco da Gama, and offered a trial.

The slight attacker impressed and then found himself representing Brazil’s under-15s.

ITALY CALLS

Before he’d even kicked a ball in a professional game for Vasco, Coutinho was signed by Inter Milan in 2008 for £3.7m as a 16-year-old.

Inter immediately loaned him back to the Rio giants, where he would get opportunities in their first team.

A year later, Coutinho helped Vasco win the Serie B title as they were promoted to the Brazilian top flight.

Five goals in 31 appearances highlighted his potential, and the Brazilian press hailed him the heir to Kaka.

In 2010, Coutinho’s move to the San Siro was finalised. “Coutinho is the future of Inter,” manager Rafa Benitez said at the time.

But it was at the Reds where he truly came to the light.

PREMIER LEAGUE AWAKENING

It didn’t completely workout for Coutinho in Italy.

In fact, after he struggled for form – he was loaned to Espanyol and starred for Mauricio Pochettino in 2011-12.

Then, the following season, Liverpool gambled £8.5m on him, after Damien Comoli – their former director of football – was tipped off by Benitez about his former protégé’s ability.

But he could’ve been a Southampton player, if Poch had his way.

“Philippe… he has a special magic in his feet,” he once marvelled about the Brazil international’s fancy footwork.

The Argentine tried to sign Coutinho, but the Brazil international went to Liverpool instead. And it was the making of him.

HE LEFT THE REDS UNDER A DARK CLOUD

After Coutinho became the all-time leading Brazilian scorer in the Premier League, the Kop fell in love with him.

However, a flirtation with Barcelona and Real Madrid soured relations.

 

In 2017, the Catalans offered £72m for him – which was flatly rejected. That prompted Coutinho into submitting a transfer request by email.

Two more bids were rejected, and Barcelona’s director Albert Soler said Liverpool wanted the astronomical sum of £183m for the player, which was denied by the Premier League giants.

Eventually, after Jurgen Klopp had lost patience with his star man, and froze him out of the side, he was sold a year later for £142m.

“I only have good things to say about Philippe, but I think he left Liverpool because he wanted to play for one of the two big Spanish clubs,” Liverpool chairman Tom Werner revealed.

“We tried to convince him that we had the club moving in the right direction and that he could experience great nights in the Champions League if he stayed in Liverpool.

“(Coutinho) lost a lot of support for the manner in which he forced through a move to Barcelona.”

NOU ESCAPE

Heavy the head that wears the crown.
With such a hefty price-tag comes expectation – and Barcelona fans wanted a new saviour after selling Neymar and losing Iniesta.

But Coutinho struggled, often overlooked to play in the No.10 position that Messi operates in. He was placed on the left hand side of the attack and couldn’t influence games like he did previously in England.

A return of 21 goals in 75 games has highlighted his poor form in La Liga since he joined the club.

That’s why they’re entertaining offers to release the big-earner from their wage bill.

NOT FORGETTING A CURSED HOUSE

Many fans put Coutinho’s failing at Barcelona down to the fact he lives in a cursed house.

According to ESPN, Cesc Fabregas used to live in the same luxury villa in Castelldefels – a 30-minute drive south of the Catalan capital.

But just months after buying the property, he was flogged to Chelsea.

Thomas Vermaelan has also lived there but his time at Barca has been beset by injuries.

Andre Gomes was next up following his £35m move from Valencia – but he never settled and is currently at Everton.

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