Barcelona finally have their man in Philippe Coutinho but just what will they do with him?
Coutinho’s Camp Nou arrival has captured the attention of the footballing world but many are left wondering just where the Catalan giants will use the Brazilian maestro in a team already full of quality players.
During his time at Liverpool, Coutinho has proven himself to be a quality attacking midfielder/left winger and whilst many are calling him a future replacement for Andrés Iniesta, the astronomical transfer calls for a more permanent inclusion in the squad.
Oscar Wilde once wrote that a cynic is “a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” We all know the hefty price that Barcelona have paid for the Brazilian star but in order for this deal to be of any value to the club, Coutinho must be given the opportunity to produce results. In other words, he needs time on the pitch.
There are a number of different formations that Barcelona may use to ensure Coutinho’s talents are fully utilised and in most cases it allows for a rotational policy for rest time for some of the team’s biggest stars.
Coutinho’s arrival signals a depth of quality for Barcelona and coach Ernesto Valverde has some big tactical decisions to make.
Here are some formations that we could see in the coming months.
4-3-3 with Coutinho on the left wing
A staple of Barcelona’s footballing ethos for many years, the 4-3-3 formation has taken a backseat this season but with the addition of Coutinho and the return of Dembélé, there’s likely to be a re-emergence at some point in the near future.
Coutinho as a left wing is a very attractive proposition. In five appearances in this position for Liverpool this season he’s scored four goals and has five assists.
This line up would allow for Dembélé to come off the bench or for Messi to take a well-earned rest. It also allows for Iniesta to keep his left midfield role.
4-4-3 with Coutinho as a central midfielder
Another 4-3-3 option is one that allows for Iniesta to be rested and features a front three of Messi, Suárez and Dembélé.
This is likely the formation that most envisioned when word got out that Coutinho was to eventually become successor to the midfield marvel that is Andrés Iniesta.
Coutinho played a total of nine games for Liverpool this season in a comparable role and was outstanding with four goals and three assists.
4-4-2 (diamond midfield) with Coutinho as an attacking midfielder
Ernesto Valverde has used a diamond midfield on a number of occasions this season-especially in attack-and there’s a good chance that it will be where Coutinho gets his first start with the club.
This line up allows Coutinho to link up with both Suarez and Messi, creating opportunities for both of them as well as having his own shot on goal.
The Brazilian has played just one game for Liverpool in a similar role but did produce a goal in the performance.
4-4-2 with Coutinho as a left midfielder
This position is another that Coutinho has only played in once this season but it certainly was a memorable one.
Against Spartak Moscow in the Champions League, Liverpool destroyed the Russian team 7-0 and Coutinho was instrumental in the victory. He scored a hat-trick and earned a perfect ten for his performance by Whoscored.com.
Whilst there’s little doubt that the quality of opponent was subpar that night, Coutinho’s performance should be enough to convince Valverde that he deserves to be considered once again in this more conventional 4-4-2.
4-2-3-1 with Coutinho as an attacking left midfielder
This formation sees Coutinho in a similar role to that of the 4-3-3 but this time he’s sitting a little deeper back in midfield. He still has free reign of the left flank in attack and the opportunity to link up with Suarez but he also has a direct link with Messi in the middle.
The 4-2-3-1 is one of the few formations that feature a front four of Coutinho, Messi, Dembélé and Suarez and could be the one we see if Iniesta is indeed to be rested in certain league games.
4-1-4-1 with Coutinho as an attacking left midfielder
Coutinho and Iniesta share a midfield link in this 4-1-4-1 formation and Coutinho has the ability to creep forward in attack into a left wing role to connect with Suarez up front.
This formation also allows for some versatility and can easily become a 4-3-3 should Messi and Coutinho move from the midfield to the wings. Dembélé would come off the bench in this line up or as with the 4-3-3, Messi could be rested.
All formations done via www.lineupbuilder.com
Where do you think Coutinho should line up for Barcelona? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!