If you were to grade Philippe Coutinho’s first 12 months at Barcelona, anything above a C minus would be generous.
Big things were expected from the Brazilian playmaker following his £142 million move to the Camp Nou from Liverpool in January 2018; however, he’s been a bitter disappointment so far, especially given the astronomical transfer fee involved in bringing him to Spain.
The early signs were promising - 10 goals in 22 games during his first half-season with the Catalan giants was a decent return - but he’s gone off the boil in spectacular fashion this season.
The confidence that he showed during the final months of the 2017-18 season has now all but deserted him.
And his performance against Real Madrid on Wednesday night represented a new low for the 26-year-old, who was hooked after 63 minutes for Lionel Messi, the man Coutinho was expected to help ease the burden on following his move from Anfield.
Catalan newspaper Sport have gone in hard on the former Premier League star following his latest disappointing performance.
In a column written by Lluís Mascaró, Coutinho has been roasted in three damning paragraphs.
“The disappointing performance from Coutinho says little of the Brazilian. On a day where he needed to take the reins as a crack in the absence of Leo Messi, Coutinho had one of his worst games since he arrived at Barca,” Mascaró began. “That is saying a lot, because he has spent months at a lamentable level. In the 60 minutes he was on the pitch - until Leo came on for him - he practically didn't enter in the game. And when he did it was always choosing the wrong option. Any ball that arrived to the Brazilian was a lost ball.
“By contrast, Malcom, the big surprise of the line up, was hyperactive and got his prize with the equalising goal. He fought, he was brave, and he created more danger than any other Blaugrana forward. He wasn't always accurate, but at least he had the courage to try and overload Madrid. Unbalancing them, crossing and shooting. Three things that Coutinho was incapable of doing in a worrying show that he is still in his exasperating lethargy.
“Coutinho has been at Barca for a year now and is only getting worse. Worse and worse. Unjustifiable for a player that cost 150 million euros. The most expensive signing, in the history of the club. Not even Messi's support, Valverde's therapy and Bartomeu's advice can fix him. Nothing is working. There is no excuse. Or forgiveness. He must react or find an immediate exit in June. Before he becomes unsellable.”
‘There is no excuse. Or forgiveness.’ Wow.
It’s rare to see Sport go after a Barcelona player in this way, but they’re merely echoing the thoughts of many fans, who expected so much more from the South American.
At this moment in time, Coutinho is not the match-winner we saw at Liverpool.
He’s reverted to the lost little boy who flopped at Inter Milan.
And unless he rediscovers his form and confidence, quickly, a summer departure from the Camp Nou appears to be a very realistic possibility.News Now - Sport News