Philippe Coutinho endured another disappointing evening during Barcelona’s 1-1 draw against Real Madrid on Wednesday.
The Brazilian was largely ineffective in the hour that he played, and when he did get on the ball he failed to make anything happen.
“Coutinho has been at Barca for a year now and is only getting worse. Worse and worse,” Catalan newspaper Sport wrote in their damning post-match verdict.
The same newspaper report that Coutinho’s teammates still have faith that he will turn it around at the Camp Nou.
Barcelona, who could end up paying Liverpool £142 million for the 26-year-old, will be desperate that he does.
Coutinho clearly has immense talent, which makes his form all the more perplexing.
Sport have delved in to find out just why the playmaker hasn’t found his feet in Spain.
They’ve pinpointed six reasons that explain why Coutinho has been a disappointment.
1. Poor performances
Coutinho made an encouraging start to life at Barcelona, scoring 10 goals and providing two assists in his first half season.
He started this season well, too, but his form dipped. He’s scored less goals (eight) than he did in the 2017-18 campaign despite playing in more matches.
There is a genuine concern that his performances aren’t good enough.
2. Pressure to replace Iniesta
Coming in to play in the same position as Andres Iniesta was always going to be a tough ask.
While Coutinho has been viewed as Iniesta’s replacement, he doesn’t share the same characteristics and doesn’t fit in the team nearly as well as the Spanish legend.
3. Dembele’s form
There were worries that Ousmane Dembele didn’t have the mentality to make it at Barcelona, especially after he turned up late to training.
But the Frenchman has managed to turn it around, scoring five times and setting up four during a purple patch from October to December.
An injury to Dembele has allowed Coutinho to get minutes but the 21-year-old’s imminent return is bad news for him.
4. The missing ‘Coutinhazos’
The ‘Coutinhazos’ is the term to describe the powerful shots that Coutinho produces from outside the area, where he often produces a goal from nothing.
They were on display last season and at the World Cup, too, where he scored a stunner against Switzerland.
But they’ve been absent this season. Coutinho hasn’t produced the type of goal he's scored against Alaves, Leganes and Sevilla often enough.
The last time he scored from open play in La Liga was on October 28, when he scored from close range.
He’s scored three goals since then: two penalties and a header. The ‘Coutinhazos’ have vanished.
5. He’s become predictable
Nothing is working for Coutinho right now but he isn’t helping himself by becoming predictable.
Opponents know to expect him to cut in from the right and try a shot. Coutinho seems to show little signs of any other move and it’s reached the point where defending against him isn’t too difficult.
6. No confidence
Coutinho is reserved in his nature and rarely expresses himself. But he hasn’t been able to conceal his lack of confidence on the pitch.
He was unable to capitalise on a brace against Sevilla, and the pressure on him is growing rapidly.
Sport add: “The remedy is patience... but at Barca there's never much of that.”