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Saturday, September 19, 2020

Philippe Coutinho’s nadir in Barcelona and Liverpool’s decision that led to the fall from grace

Philippe Coutinho had dreamed of this moment.

Barcelona were in the city and, 3-0 ahead of the first leg, had expected them to close in full in the Champions League final in Madrid.

Coutinho had the opportunity to show Liverpool exactly why he had made the choice to move to Camp Nou, to increase his chances of winning the big trophies he would always dream of doing with a better equipped team to do it, or at least so thought.

90 minutes later and Barcelona were abandoned after being the biggest return in the history of the Champions League knockouts.

And for Coutinho, who had missed a golden opportunity to equalize in the first half, it was a new low in a Barcelona career that had struggled to take off.

In fact, he is just 27 years old, but he already seems to have crossed the career trajectory of an aged and seasoned veteran: the turning point at Inter, the peak in Liverpool and the decline, with Barcelona and then Bayern Munich.

The reality, however, is that the Brazilian simply lost his way, his splendor canceled out by two unfortunate moves.

He still has plenty of time to save things, to return to the type of form he has shown so often in Anfield.

For now, however, Coutinho’s career can be neatly summarized as an increase and a fall.

Liverpool’s first goal – February 2013

Philippe Coutinho was to be the future of Inter.

This is what the Italian side had proudly said when the Brazilian arrived as an 18 year old very publicized in July 2010. But in two and a half years with the club he barely made a sign and, at only 21 years old, they were ready to give up on him .

That’s where Liverpool entered.

Coutinho was a talent. This was clear to everyone in Anfield. He had arrived from Inter with very little fanfare: an attacking midfielder with curly hair, skillful, but still developing, still young and relatively unproven.

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Liverpool paid only £ 8.5 million to bring him to the club, a fee which suggested that Inter were not overly concerned about losing him. Soon they would cast envious glances at Anfield.

Coutinho scored his first Liverpool goal in a 5-0 win against Swansea, sliding into the area and sweeping his goal beyond Michel Vorm. It was not his most spectacular goal for the club, not memorable in any way. But it was his arrival.

This was also his full debut, the first time fans have seen him play for 90 minutes. It made a good impression.

A consolidated figure – February 2014

A year later, Coutinho had established himself as a key player while Liverpool challenged Manchester City for the Premier League title. He had starred in a 5-1 win over Arsenal and a 3-2 win against Fulham.

“He is an absolutely wonderful talent,” said manager Brendan Rodgers.

“Now there are very few players at this level who penetrate with a pass, who play through the teams and always put the teams on the back foot.

“He doesn’t always get there. But the quality of his passage and the weight of his passages are sensational, and he is also a good boy.

“His talent is remarkable. Every single day he does something that makes me think” Wow, what talent “.

In the early 1920s, Coutinho was making great strides. Liverpool, of course, had real talent in their hands.

Liverpool’s main man – 2016-17

Coutinho was now the man from Liverpool. It was the focal point of every attack, the player his teammates looked to when they needed inspiration. And, more often, it produced something: a hissing and curled blow, which broke from the bottom of the bar; an incisive, penetrating passage; a devastating cross crept in from outside.

His characteristic move, cutting from the left and shooting, seemed almost impossible to stop. He was scoring even more regularly: at the end of the 2016-17 season he had 13 goals in the Premier League, his best result ever.

The problem for Coutinho was that he was alone. Luis Suarez was gone. Raheem Sterling was also gone. Daniel Sturridge, meanwhile, had been devastated by injuries.

But Jurgen Klopp’s reconstruction was in progress and although the final pieces of the puzzle had not yet been found, Coutinho was joined in Anfield by Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.

But Coutinho seemed tired of waiting and already his eventual departure was starting to seem inevitable. Barcelona was interested and would not have been deterred by Liverpool’s stubbornness.

Catalonia – January 2018

In January 2018, Liverpool’s resistance was over. Coutinho joined Barcelona for £ 142 million which, on balance, turned out to be excellent deals for Klopp’s team.

For Coutinho, however, it was a dream come true. He scored in a 5-1 victory at Clasico in October, but his moments in the spotlight were ephemeral. He was overshadowed by the other Barcelona attacking players, left to play a secondary role.

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Having been so used to his status as Liverpool’s key player, this was excruciating for Coutinho. He has, however, managed 10 goals in 22 appearances in all competitions. It was not a bad return and more was expected.

His first full season, 2018-19, proved more challenging and ended with what was probably the nadir of his career: a 4-0 Champions League semi-final defeat at Anfield, a night of ecstasy for Liverpool , who continued to win the competition – but one of humiliation for Barcelona.

Coutinho, like his teammates, looked disconsolate as Divock Origi scored the fourth crucial goal. This was, without a doubt, its fall, its lowest point.

Bavaria calls – August 2019

In the end, Barcelona would try to eliminate Coutinho from their wages and a loan agreement was agreed with the German giant Bayern Munich in August last year.

It seemed like a good move for the Brazilian and, being all right, Bayern could take the opportunity to buy it outright at the end of the season.

At first glance, Coutinho did well. Nine goals in 32 games are far from a bad result, but there have been concerns.

Indeed, it appears that Coutinho will return to Barcelona once the loan has expired and uncertainty surrounds his future.

A move in the Premier League is constantly being challenged, but will not return to Anfield.

Instead, Leicester, Chelsea and even Everton are all considered potential suitors.

What will come next for the little Brazilian is unclear but he must choose wisely.

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