The snow has well and truly settled on Philippe Coutinho’s blockbuster move to Barcelona.
After two consecutive transfer windows of wall-to-wall speculation, Coutinho finally waved goodbye to Liverpool to the tune of £146 million. It marked another bout of hefty spending from the Blaugrana who had procured Ousmane Dembele for a record fee in the summer.
Coutinho is now four months into his spell with Barcelona and both supporters and pundits alike can now start drawing conclusions about how he’s fared at the Nou Camp so far.
Empirically speaking, the Brazilian has made 13 appearances for the club – producing three goals and two assists along the way.
Not too bad, but is it Barcelona quality? Obviously, it would be hasty to get ahead of ourselves so early in Coutinho’s spell yet there’s a common theme amongst expert opinion in La Liga.
BALAGUE: A LONG WAY TO GO AND ADAPTING TO MESSI
Guillem Balague was the first man to speak out, noting in early March that he had been somewhat underwhelmed by the 25-year-old and it’s an opinion freshly seconded by Sky Sports’ Terry Gibson one month along the line.
“I always said Coutinho is not a midfielder. He was on the right-hand side, he was lost. He didn’t know exactly what he had to do,” Balague remarked after the Atletico Madrid clash.
“He’s got a long way to go, but he’s got so much quality, he’ll have brilliant moments, but to have 90 minutes of domination of the game is difficult when Messi is there because the ball always goes to him.
“Coutinho has not only to understand the positional game, and that he will not play as much direct football as at Liverpool, he has to understand he has to run for Messi. When that gets into his head, and his attitude has been great so far, he will be a better Coutinho.”
So a cocktail of having a long way to go, despite still possessing quality, and Messi potentially necessitating adaptation. It’s a trio of notes more than detectable in Gibson’s own comments.
GIBSON: WE SHOULD HAVE HIGHER EXPECTATIONS OF COUTINHO
“I must admit I am hoping, and expecting, to see more from Coutinho, to be honest,” he noted in his weekly La Liga podcast.
“I know there is a settling in period, but he’s come in as the finished article, whereas Ousmane Dembele is the younger player, with less games under his belt. Coutinho has come in as the finished article.
“Watching him at the weekend, it was clear how much difference there was in the Barca side when Lionel Messi came on. I know it’s not fair to judge Coutinho against Messi, but he didn’t contribute to the cause.
“We should have [higher expectations of Coutinho]. We shouldn’t just allow this settling-in period, when you cost that much.
“He’s had moments where he’s scored good goals, made goals. It was a tough game, but I thought he could have done better. ”
Very interesting to say the least. Only time will tell whether these comments will appear foreboding or simply trivial as Coutinho marches on at Barcelona.
Do you think Coutinho will go onto succeed at Barcelona? Have your say in the comments section below.