Coutinho’s Impending Move To Bayern Represents Calamitous Fall From Grace
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In January of 2018, Philippe Coutinho became the second-richest transfer in soccer history when he moved from Liverpool to Barcelona. Essentially a replacement for Neymar, who had months earlier become the richest transfer ever, Coutinho never really quite fit in, as the impending Coutinho Bayern loan deal illustrates.
Coutinho was a late scratch from the Barcelona team that played Athletic Bilbao at the San Mamés to open the LaLiga season Friday, ultimately watching the match from the stands. Multiple outlets have reported Coutinho will be loaned to Bayern Munich.
That Coutinho is leaving the club is not a huge surprise. Most of the summer, the Brazilian’s name has popped up as a possible trade to bring Neymar back to the Camp Nou. That Coutinho is being sent away for essentially nothing, however, is a surprise.
While Bayern has reportedly agreed to pay all of Coutinho’s wages, Barcelona is not getting anything back for the man it paid $160 million for less than two years ago.
Barcelona had reportedly hoped to use Coutinho as a chip to pry Neymar from PSG, but those talks appear to have stalled. And yet the reigning LaLiga champ still did not want to keep the former Liverpool star.
Coutinho was something of a revelation at Anfield. Never much of a success at Inter Milan, Jurgen Klopp helped him become one of the most coveted players in the world. He had 13 goals and seven assists in a sensational 2016-17 Premier League campaign and had 12 goals in all competitions by the time Barcelona pulled the trigger to bring him to Spain midseason.
But Coutinho never really reached his Liverpool form in Catalonia. After scoring 10 goals to finish the 2017-18 season, the winger scored 11 in all of the 2018-19 campaign. With Barcelona bringing in Antoine Griezmann over the summer, he became superfluous to Ernesto Valverde’s plans.
For a player who came to the club as the second-most expensive transfer of all time, a few good months isn’t good enough.
Bayern Munich, however, could be getting a steal.
As when the German giants snatched James Rodriguez from Real Madrid, Bayern could benefit from LaLiga rivals having too many players with huge contracts. Should Coutinho rediscover his Liverpool form, Die Roten could have the perfect replacement for the departed Robbery duo of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery.
The move might be bad news for Canadian phenom Alphonso Davies. At the age of 17, Davies shattered the MLS transfer record when he joined Bayern from the Vancouver Whitecaps last summer. The 18-year-old now might struggle to find playing time with wingers Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry already ahead of him in the pecking order.
Then again, Bayern struggled to a 2-2 draw against Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga opener on Friday, so maybe Davies and Coutinho could start together with Robert Lewandowski, who netted both Bayern goals.
Barcelona, meanwhile, has a bit of a forward injury problem right now. With Messi out hurt and Coutinho on the way out, the Blaugrana still put out a formidable forward lineup of Luis Suarez, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembélé on Friday. But Suarez left early with an apparent calf injury and the club struggled to break down the Bilbao defense. Barcelona succumbed to a surprising 1-0 defeat thanks to a stellar goal from Aritz Aduriz.