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What next for Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho?

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It has been a tumultuous time for Philippe Coutinho since his dream £142m move to Barcelona back in January 2018.

The Brazilian playmaker started life with the Catalan club in fairly impressive style bagging eight goals and five assists in his first sixth months in La Liga, but a derisory 2018-19 season saw the former Liverpool star add just a further five strikes and two assists in 34 league appearances.

Once charged as half of the attacking duo, along with Ousmane Dembele, to replace the departing Neymar, Coutinho’s career has not gone the way he hoped, or as many expected, over the last 18 months.

While his former team on Merseyside have gone from strength to strength in his absence reaching back-to-back Champions League finals including one victory and all but ending their 30-year wait for a league title, Coutinho has found himself unwanted, underused and in the shop window, available to anyone at a bargain price.

Philippe Coutinho in action for Bayern Munich on October 5, 2019© Reuters

The Barca playmaker found himself on loan at Bayern Munich at the start of the current campaign and while his nine goals and eight assists in all competitions for the Bavarians might sound impressive, his overall performances have done little to endear himself to the club’s hierarchy and fans.

FC Hollywood had an option to buy Coutinho for £110m at the end of the season but Bayern aren’t famed for breaking the bank and have now formally passed on the opportunity to purchase a player that has yet to convince.

While Coutinho’s reputation appears to have nose-dived across the continent, English clubs still seem to hold the midfielder in high esteem remembering the damage he once caused during his devastating displays at Liverpool.

The 27-year-old has been linked with the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Everton amongst others, and with the effects of coronavirus set to lower transfer prices in the coming window, now could be the prime time to snap up the mercurial midfielder.

Philippe Coutinho celebrates scoring for Brazil on November 19, 2019© Reuters

Equally as capable of finding the back of the net as picking out a teammate with a precision pass, Coutinho would add something extra to every Premier League team bar Manchester City.

With Pedro and Willian ageing at Chelsea and their futures in doubt, the entertaining Brazilian would fit perfectly into Frank Lampard‘s carefree style at Stamford Bridge. Spurs fans would surely see him as an ideal replacement for their beloved Christian Eriksen and the sight of their more affluent neighbours once prized possession at Goodison Park would get the Toffees’ fans dreaming once again.

The most recent team linked with Barcelona’s biggest regret is one of his former sides Inter Milan. The Spanish champions are keen to secure 22-year-old striker Lautaro Martinez from Antonio Conte‘s side as a long-term replacement for the ageing Luis Suarez.

The Argentinian has a €111m (£99.5m) release clause in his contract but Barca have no intention of paying the full fee and are reportedly willing to offer €60m (£53.8m) plus a player of Inter’s choice that they deem surplus to requirements. Dembele and Coutinho are thought to be amongst them.

Lautaro Martinez celebrates scoring for Inter Milan on October 2, 2019© Reuters

With the likeable figure fast approaching his 28th birthday the next move could be career-defining for Coutinho. When he signed for the Spanish giants he said it was his dream to be able to “win titles” and although he has achieved that at Barcelona and is on course to at Bayern, he’ll have to live with the fact that the part he played was far from pivotal.

There’s no doubting the talent that he possesses but whether we see it again on a regular basis on the biggest of stages remains to be seen.

Being remembered as a blemish on Barca’s reputation is not something fitting for this tantalising talent. The next few months will be crucial in how Coutinho’s career is remembered.

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