Dress it up all you like.
‘The fee isn’t his fault...,’ ‘He’s not Neymar’s direct replacement.’
These and many other excuses continue to be used to in some way justify the under-par performances of Philippe Coutinho.
It’s entirely correct to say that the astronomical fee paid for him wasn’t down to him. However, that doesn’t absolve him of the responsibility to provide the highest standards of work for his club.
Coutinho disasterclass again, he’s getting even better at them the more chances he gets.— Rafael Hernández (@RafaelH117) March 9, 2019
The Brazilian has had more than long enough now to work out the style and nuances of the team and how they play, so enhancing it needn’t have become a problem for a player who was a real standout at Liverpool.
As time has gone on it’s becoming abundantly clear that, for all of his enviable skills, Coutinho just isn’t the right fit for this Barcelona side.
Clearly, it would be another embarrassing gaffe for the board if they had to admit that they got it wrong with their most expensive ever signing, but it’s the only conclusion that can be drawn at this stage.
Devoid of the confidence which made him a dangerous customer on Merseyside, Coutinho’s game at present consists of balls played across the line or back to a colleague, and very rarely do we see a change of pace into the area or shots that test the goalkeeper.
Even when Leo Messi perfectly set him up in the match against Rayo, all the winger could do was pass it into Stole Dimitrievski’s grateful hands.
Piqué: "The whistles against Coutinho? People's reaction has to be accepted but we, as teammates, give him all the support because we need him at the highest level."— barcacentre (@barcacentre) March 9, 2019
Against a team that are languishing near the bottom of the table, this was the perfect opportunity for Coutinho to really showcase his skills, but he failed miserably. Again.
His colleagues continue to toe the party line about him being an integral part of the group, but he offered nothing on the day.
Just two shots in his entire time on the pitch and only one dribble completed is a damning indictment.
Dembélé comes on and instantly involves himself. Plays a part in 2 goals.— totalBarça (@totalBarca) March 9, 2019
Even without a goal or an assist, he’s extremely useful to the team.
That’s all I want from Coutinho, but unfortunately he just seems invisible out there.
It seems that if he can’t execute his signature move of coming inside onto his right foot ready to unleash a curling shot into the opposite side of the net, then there’s little else of note in the locker.
Compare and contrast that with Ivan Rakitic who within a minute or two of coming on had made a direct run into the box and linked with Luis Suarez for the latter to score.
With De Ligt rumours continuing to swirl around, and funds needing to be raised to buy players of such stature, Coutinho is making Ernesto Valverde’s decision on whether to raise the funds by selling him that much easier.