In today’s modern footballing world, the influx of cash has completely altered many facets of the game. One aspect that has completely revolutionized, especially in recent years, has been the transfer market – with clubs having millions and millions in revenue, the price of high-quality players has increased.
Neymar’s transfer from Barcelona was the largest, but there have been several $100+ million transfers in the last couple of years. With these increase in prices, players have begun to fall under larger scrutiny in comparison to their transfer fees. One player who has seemingly felt shielded is Philippe Coutinho, compared to other players like Paul Pogba, Coutinho hasn’t felt nearly as much criticism. Well, we must start to question where he has been this campaign.
This year, Coutinho has been playing well, but not at his brilliant best. Whether he has decided to fall under Messi’s shadow or just hasn’t fully recovered from the World Cup, the Brazilian hasn’t demonstrated the brilliance that dominated headlines during his time at Liverpool. Throughout the entire campaign, the Brazilian has only managed four goals and one assist in La Liga. In 18 La Liga games last year, the Brazilian had 8 goals and 5 assists, something he is not close to attaining this year.
For a player of his pedigree, we need to demand more from Coutinho. Yes, playing with Messi has some drawbacks. Unlike at Liverpool, Coutinho cannot dominate the ball in the center of the field simply because Messi is better. This means that Coutinho has had to learn how to play “side-kick” to some of Messi’s slaloming runs, something that he also excels at. While that is a worthy excuse, players like Luis Suarez, Neymar, and Ivan Rakitic have learnt how to provide meaningful contributions to the squad, while also letting the Argentinian control matches.
Moving forward, Coutinho must look to be more selfish. Similar to Messi, Suarez, and players like Ousmane Dembele, Coutinho has the quality and gifts to change a game with one run, pass, or shot. This season, he has seemed to relinquish the talents that made him worthy of a $100+ million dollar transfer fee. In order to start living up to the hype he created, Coutinho must look to make more of an impact himself.