Philippe Coutinho has finally secured a loan move back to Premier League after a failed stint at Barcelona following the parable of the ‘prodigal son’ return.
The Brazilian was an integral part of the Liverpool squad before getting his desired £105 million move to Barcelona in 2018. Although, he could not hit the ground running at Barca especially with the hype that he would succeed Andre Iniesta.
He was able to secure a loan move to Bayern Munich which enabled him to win the UEFA Champions League in 2020 defeating his parent club Barcelona 8-2.
Barca recalled him to the team after Bayern Munich did not activate his buy-out clause. He returned to Barcelona under new coach Ronald Koeman. Strings of injuries kept him out of the squad after performing well in the pre-season.
Why Is EPL Return Best For Him?
This is not the first time Coutinho will have issues making a name for himself at clubs across Europe. He had similar problems at Inter Milan, Espanyol.
Coutinho never made a real name for himself at any club outside Premier League.
He joined Liverpool in 2013 with a transfer of £8.5 million from Inter Milan, with a No. 10 shirt.
By February of the year, he already won Liverpool’s player of the month.
Although he ended his debut season with 3 goals in 13 appearances for Liverpool — his importance to the squad has always been beyond goals but with his passes, vision, dribbles and ability to read the game.
In his second season at Liverpool, he made 37 appearances with just 5 goals.
In his third season, he was nominated for PFA Players’ Player of the Year, PFA Young Player of the Year and also Player of the season.
Not until 2015-16, did he score 12 goals with 7 assists in all competition.
Comparing his output in EPL where his importance was not to score goals, Coutinho’s focus shifted to goalscoring when he joined Barcelona.
The departure of Neymar left a hole on the left flank of Barcelona’s attack of which Coutinho was moved to occupy.
The style of game in the Spanish La Liga was not direct especially with the tiki-taka style of Barcelona where they would rather have the opponent’s pocket picked than a direct shot fired at goal made Coutinho lose his identity and slip into Oblivion.
His loan move to Bayern Munich did not do him any good as Barcelona’s style was similar to the Bavarians.
Aside from the style, the evolution of Serge Gnabry, Joshua Kimmich, Thiago, and Goretzka choked the midfield position while the presence of Veteran Muller gave no space for Coutinho to move around in the middle of the park, with the opposition’s final third not even in the options.
A Return To Villa
On January 7th 2022, Villa reached an agreement with Barcelona to take Coutinho on a loan for the remainder of the season also lifting his wages burden off cash-strapped Blaugrana.
It is a win-win for Barca and Villa; Barcelona will be able to register new signing Ferran Torres as Coutinho is part of the big earners at the club — with a 472k weekly take home.
Villa has not been the same since the exodus of former captain Jack Grealish to Manchester City. With the EPL loan of Coutinho, Villa now have a prolific midfielder aside from McGinn.
A win for Coutinho as well as he would be reuniting with former Liverpool teammate and now Villa’s manager Steven Gerrard.
Ahead of World Cup 2022
In a World Cup year, Coutinho who earlier received a call-up from Tite’s Brazil to be part of the squad for Qatar would need more game time of which he would not get at Barcelona.
Xavi Hernandez would rather have more youth teams in his squad than Coutinho.
So Villa might just be the place for him to rediscover his form.