L o a n e e s W a t c h
The most popular and marketable of our loanees has had an irregular season at Bayern. Under Kovač, Phil fell out of favour when the Bavarians started slumping down the table. With Hansi Flick, his runs in and out of the team have continued, despite he lately seems to have won the battle over Müller for the n.10 role.
In total, Coutinho has played 22 competitive games and 1.427 minutes for Bayern. He has 7 goals and 7 assists to his name, having scored a stunning hat-trick in the Bundesliga 2 weeks ago.
He hasn’t reached the level of productivity displayed at Liverpool, but he’s showing that the quality is still there. The little magician undoubtedly is super talented and creative, but also a player who needs confidence to perform. Valverde trying unfamiliar things with him didn’t benefit him.
That being said, while the Brazilian isn’t a winger to emulate Neymar, he isn’t an interior like Iniesta either. He belongs to the archetypical attacking midfielder, which are no longer indispensable in football, and to the plummeting stocks of the likes of Isco, James and Özil. As well as doing the aesthetic aspect, he must work more off the ball and understand the tactical game better. 10s like Philippe are a luxury rather than a necessity these days.
And we don’t need him. For him to shine, you need to build the team around him, and we can only do that to Leo. Coutinho requires too much freedom to be pinned down to one position. Moreover, he doesn’t possess the tactical concepts for our positional play, and with De Jong and Arthur, and Aleñá and Riqui knocking on the door, there’s no space for him. We can’t have such an expensive star as a rotation piece when there are others far more suited – and younger – than the 27-year-old.
Bayern will make a decision regarding Cou towards the end of the season, so expect endless speculation until then. They will almost certainly not pay the full €120m purchase option that Barça inserted into the loan deal, so they could negotiate a fee between €80–100m. Still, if Bayern end up buying Kai Havertz and Sané, then they may not purchase Coutinho. For me, we don’t need him either, at all.