Liverpool’s sale of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona in January 2018 is still the record deal for any Premier League club and his latest actions have justified the transfer
The Brazilian playmaker became the Catalan club’s record signing back in January 2018 from Liverpool for a reported fee of £142million – a record sale for an English club.
That moment was in retrospect a key moment for player and club, as the Reds went on to win the Champions League in 2019 and the Premier League title the following year, as Coutinho struggled to nail down a starting spot at the Camp Nou.
The 29-year-old spent the 2019-20 campaign on loan at Bayern Munich – helping them to the Champions League crown – but returned to Barca last year and has suffered with fitness problems since.
Coutinho has started just four matches out of a possible 16 for the Blaugrana this campaign and remains a peripheral figure at the club despite the exit of a series of star players at the club.
An incident reported by the Onze programme of Esports3 claims that Coutinho refused an instruction to warm up in the recent La Liga clash away to Celta Vigo.
The alleged event occurred when forward Ansu Fati sustained an injury late in the first half in Vigo, with interim coach Sergi Barjuan instructing his attack-minded substitutes to warm up.
It is at this point that Coutinho is alleged to have said: “It is not necessary (to warm up) now, the break (half time) is coming up.”
That is said to have angered several of his teammates, who reproached him for the comments in an accusation that this was disobedient and lazy on his behalf.
Coutinho – whose last start came in the loss against Rayo Vallecano last month – did not emerge as a substitute during the encounter.
It is hard to imagine such a situation being tolerated at Anfield amid Jurgen Klopp’s insistence on work ethic and intensity – with this appearing to be a moment that justified his exit three-and-a-half years ago.
Coutinho remains in the national squad of Brazil for this month’s World Cup qualification matches against Colombia and Argentina.
Selecao boss Tite admitted in his press conference explaining the selection that the playmaker needs to return to the form he showed at Liverpool to show the ‘best’ version of his game.
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Tite explained of the player this week: “Coutinho today is not the best Coutinho, but Coutinho is a great player.
“He has a great future, we are going to get him back to what he was at Liverpool.
“We need to resume the process of seeing what a great player he is.
“Talent is not up for discussion and no one can say that Coutinho doesn’t have it.
“For me, Couto can play on either side, he can play inside or outside, but he’s an integral player who has to make the final pass.”