By Mirror |
February 25th 2020 at 10:30:00 GMT +0300
The Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona saga has been a disaster from start to finish where the Catalan giants are concerned.
Barcelona parted with an eye-watering £142million to land the Brazilian midfielder from Liverpool back in January 2018.
But Coutinho struggled to make an impact in Spain, and after failing to nail down a place in the first team, the 27-year-old was sent out on loan to Bayern Munich.
It was hoped the German giants would make the loan transfer permanent, but Coutinho looks set to return to Barcelona at the end of the season.
Here are the five biggest mistakes Barcelona made with Coutinho, and why Liverpool got the better part of the deal.
1. Barcelona overpaid
Liverpool dug their heels in when Barcelona came calling in the summer of 2017, and refused to let Coutinho leave.
But when Barcelona returned in January, the Reds agreed to sell the Brazilian.
According to the CIES Football Observatory, who calculate the transfer values of players in Europe's big five leagues, Coutinho was priced at £123million at the time of the deal.
This suggests that Barcelona overpaid for Coutinho by £19million.
2. No Andres Iniesta
Coutinho was signed as a replacement for Andres Iniesta after the World Cup winner left Barcelona following 22 years at the club.
But Coutinho is a different player to the Spaniard, and was unable to fill the Iniesta-shaped hole in the middle of Barcelona's midfield.
As a result, Barcelona were under pressure to squeeze Coutinho into the starting XI, meaning he also played out wide.
No position seemed to flatter Coutinho in Spain, and in the end Barcelona shipped him out on loan to Bayern Munich.
3. Transfer premium clause
Barcelona being so desperate to sign Coutinho and Liverpool no longer wanting to be a feeder team for the Catalan club led to unique clause being born.
According to reports, the Spanish giants agreed they would pay a premium of €100million (£89million) on top of any transfer fee to sign a Liverpool player for the next three years after landing Coutinho.
The clause has been a huge hindrance where Barcelona are concerned as it has prevented them from shopping in a tried and tested market.
Barcelona have previously had a lot of success raiding Liverpool; Javier Mascherano and Luis Suarez are two recent success stories.
4. Stuck with him
Barcelona had hoped Bayern Munich would be willing to make the Coutinho loan deal permanent at the end of the season.
But it seems Bayern are unwilling to do this. Chief Karl-Heinze Rummenigge recently provided an update on this.
He told Sport Bild:"Why is it [the transfer] not decisive? This is a difficult question. I think he played well in some games while in others he gave the impression of being a little inhibited.
"I don't know why. The fact is that we all believe he is an exceptional footballer, we see him in training and sometimes during competitions.
"Everyone tries to help him, the coach, his teammates. Now we have to hope that in the crucial weeks starting now, he will become an important factor in helping us win titles."
As things stand, it seems Barcelona will be lumbered with Coutinho - who is earning a small fortune at the club - next season.
5. Prepared to sell at a loss
Barcelona signed Coutinho for £142million - and inserted a release clause of £355million in his contract.
At the time of the transfer, Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu told Spanish television station TVE: "Coutinho is an excellent player and he has the coach's confidence.
"He has a contract with us and he will remain at the team, unless they [another club] meet his release clause."
Things are a little different these days, with reports from Spain claiming Barcelona would be willing to sell Coutinho for as little as £70million - a staggering £285million less than the Brazilian's release clause.