Coutinho is still contracted to Barcelona, despite being on loan at Bayern Munich, but faces a very uncertain future.
From being regarded as one of the world’s best players in 2018 when he was sold by Liverpool, the Brazilian’s stock has dramatically fallen, with Bayern not keen on making his loan permanent and Barca desperate to offload to avoid paying his extravagant wages and potential extra fees to us next season which could be activated based on appearances.
According to Barca legend Ronald de Boer, Coutinho’s struggles can be pinned on the fact Barca play through Lionel Messi – and everybody else has to accommodate the greatest player of all time.
At Liverpool, Coutinho was our go-to guy, even with Sadio Mane, Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino in the team – but at Barca – he got far less of the ball with which to create.
“I think Coutinho was a player where everything [went through] him, every ball went to him at Liverpool,” De Boer told talkSPORT, cited in the Echo.
“He could probably do less work, basically what Messi does with Barcelona.
“And the thing is you see how everything works together, it’s like a machine.
“If one is not doing it it’s fine maybe, they can handle that, but if it’s two similar types of players, that they also want every ball and have that special position in the team, then you see how vulnerable a team can be.
“I think we saw that with Barcelona. There’s only one that can do that now and that is Messi.
“The team is adapting and if you have to adapt for two players like this, it’s difficult.
“I think Coutinho is an unbelievable player but sometimes he doesn’t fit the puzzle and maybe with another club it will perfectly go well.
“It doesn’t mean he is a bad player. It doesn’t mean that you are not a great player when you can’t play for Barcelona – no.
“It sometimes doesn’t fit your style of play and sometimes you have bad luck, not bad luck, that Messi’s around and he has that role, and then you have to do a different role that doesn’t suit you a little bit.
“So it’s a shame for Coutinho but I think now he will do okay.”
In many ways, de Boer is right. Jurgen Klopp famously warned Coutinho he’d be just another player at a club like Barca or Bayern – and this has proved to be the case.
Phil is still an extraordinary footballer, but we don’t think we’ll see him reach the heights he did under Klopp, a manager who in hindsight he should never have left.