Philippe Coutinho is facing a battle to save his Barcelona career following a string of underwhelming performances this season.
The Brazilian playmaker has consistently underwhelmed during the opening months of his first full campaign at the Camp Nou and has only managed to score four goals in 20 La Liga appearances.
Barça splashed out £142 million on Coutinho in January 2018 - making him the second-most expensive footballer of all time behind Neymar - following his match-winning displays for Liverpool in the Premier League.
They signed him to help ease the burden on Lionel Messi following Neymar’s departure to Paris Saint-Germain six months earlier.
However, Wednesday night’s Copa del Rey semi-final first leg clash against Real Madrid proved Barça are still nowhere near as dangerous without the Argentine forward on the pitch - even with Coutinho in the starting line-up.
Coutinho played for 63 minutes before he was subbed off for Messi, who wasn’t fit enough to start the Clasico, and was panned for his performance by fans and the media alike.
“Coutinho has been at Barca for a year now and is only getting worse,” Sport’s Lluís Mascaró wrote in a withering article about the former Premier League star. “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.”
The repercussions of Coutinho’s underwhelming display against Madrid may be more serious than he realised.
According to Marca, Barça are no longer ruling out listening to offers for their record signing following the Clasico.
The Spanish newspaper add that while Barça are not going to put him up for sale at this moment in time, they may be persuaded into listening to offers.
If a tempting offer is made for the South American, and his form fails to improve, the Catalan giants will seriously consider it.
That Barça need to recoup some money after spending €75 million on Ajax midfielder Frenkie De Jong, who could earn an eye-watering €16 million a year, means Coutinho’s future at the Camp Nou is now far from certain.
However, Marca state that Barcelona would want to recoup most of the £142 million they paid for Coutinho - and this could be tricky in the current market.
Would any club pay over £100 million for him this summer given his recent form? It’s unlikely.
There’s no doubt that Coutinho has the quality to make become a success at Barça.
But whether he possesses the mental toughness to turn his current situation around remains to be seen.
A summer move away from the Camp Nou suddenly feels like a real possibility.News Now - Sport News