How will Barcelona use all its attacking talent this season?

Antoine Griezmann

Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, Luis Suarez, Ousmane Dembele, Malcom and Philippe Coutinho.

Not a bad selection, is it?

They are the attacking players available within Barcelona’s first-team squad at the moment.

If the club had the necessary funds this summer, you could have added Neymar‘s name to that list.

Antoine Griezmann’s signing from LaLiga rivals Atletico Madrid freshens up the frontline with the Frenchman expected to make it into the starting eleven right from the off. Continue reading

Christian Eriksen could become Real Madrid’s Philippe Coutinho

Real Madrid aren’t always the most discreet in their transfer business. When they want a player, the world tends to know about it. Take their pursuit of Eden Hazard over a number of years, for instance. There was no element of surprise left by the time the Belgian actually completed a move to the Spanish capital this summer.

Their pursuit of Paul Pogba is another saga which has played out in front of everyone, with Manchester United still holding firm in their £150 million valuation of the player. Real Madrid, according to reports, are unwilling and unable to pay that amount for the French midfielder and so it’s becoming increasingly likely Pogba will stay where he is for at least another season.

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For a long time, it has been presumed that Christian Eriksen would be Real Madrid’s alternative to Pogba. The Dane has already confessed his desire to leave Tottenham Hotspur this summer and the Santiago Bernabeu outfit are believed to be long term admirers. Rumours continue to swirl.

But where would Eriksen fit in at Real Madrid? He is a very different type of player to Pogba. It’s easy to see where the Frenchman could be accommodated in Zinedine Zidane’s side – on the left side of a midfield three – but Eriksen isn’t someone who likes to drive forward with the ball. Instead, he is the player who picks the final pass.

He usually does this from a position on the left side. Sure, he drifts into the middle, sometimes dropping back into the centre of midfield, but his position as it reads on the team sheet is on the left wing. He might not be a winger in the traditional sense, but that is his best place.

Real Madrid don’t have room for another left-sided attacker. They were already well-stocked for options (Vinicius Junior, Marco Asensio, Lucas Vazquez) before this summer and now they have added Hazard to their squad. How would Zidane possibly fit Hazard and Eriksen into the same side without moving one of them out of position?

Eriksen would be a signing for the sake of a signing much like Philippe Coutinho was for Barcelona 18 months. The Brazilian arrived at Camp Nou without an obvious role to play, with Coutinho now likely to be sold this summer after failing to make much of an impression. Eriksen could become Real Madrid’s very own Coutinho should he leave Spurs for the Santiago Bernabeu.

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Why Liverpool signing Coutinho is unlikely to happen

 

18 months after leaving for Barcelona and Philippe Coutinho is being linked with a move back to Liverpool.

The Brazilian’s time at the Nou Camp has not been a happy one. Rather than becoming the world-class midfielder and justifying the £130 million price tag, Coutinho has struggled for any kind of form. He’s managed 21 goals and 11 assists in 76 games and barely managed a game that can be described as good enough.

Rather than making the step up as expected, Coutinho has regressed.  At this point, the club wants rid and will move him on if there was a suitor. Indeed, if the rumours are true, they will use him as a makeweight in any to bring Neymar back from Paris Saint Germain this summer. Continue reading

Liverpool should stay clear of Philippe Coutinho

When Jurgen Klopp leaves Liverpool, whenever that may be, his tenure at Anfield will have two classifications – before Philippe Coutinho and after Philippe Coutinho. Indeed, while the German made significant progress in his first two-and-a-half seasons as Reds manager, it was the sale of the Brazilian playmaker that acted as a catalyst for acceleration.

It was after Coutinho’s departure to Barcelona that Liverpool became the team we see in front of us today. While there was no doubting his quality during his time at Anfield, Coutinho wasn’t a Klopp type of player. While the German coach favoured a fast and furious approach, particularly in the attacking third, the Brazilian had a tendency for slowing things down.

Philippe Coutinho

Of course, while Liverpool improved post-Coutinho the playmaker himself struggled to find a place at Barcelona. Signed as the most expensive player in the Catalan club’s history, Coutinho has been a peripheral figure for Ernesto Valverde with reports suggesting he could be sold this summer.

This has led to hints that Coutinho could make a dramatic return to Liverpool just 18 months after he left the club. Financially, any deal could make sense for the Reds such is the discount Barcelona are willing to offer any club willing to take a look at Coutinho. Having been a success at Anfield before, why wouldn’t he a success in a second spell?

It’s true that Liverpool still require a central, attacking midfielder, missing out on Nabil Fekir last summer. But they should avoid the temptation to re-sign Coutinho this summer. The addition of the Brazilian to their squad could risk what the Reds have built and established over the past year-and-a-half.

Liverpool’s greatest strength comes from their reflection of Klopp’s coaching identity. They are so difficult to play against because of the speed and directness they offer. Where would Coutinho fit in, both in terms of Liverpool’s footballing philosophy under Klopp and the starting lineup favoured by the German?

What’s more, Liverpool have other areas that require strengthening before they spend big money on Coutinho. They are light in the centre of defence, for instance, where injuries to Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren really tested them last season. Wingers and a centre forward would also give them a depth they have lacked at times over the past two years.

Coutinho was a hero at Liverpool. He was their best player for a time and deserves credit for what he did at Anfield. But the Reds have moved on since he left for Barcelona in January 2018. Going back for him could compromise what they have achieved in that time.

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Top LaLiga Midfielders in 2018/19 – Philippe Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho

Despite something of a nightmare season for Barcelona’s Brazilian playmaker, Philippe Coutinho still managed to accumulate the third-highest fantasy football points total for a LaLiga midfielder in 2018/19.

Coutinho was expensive, however, costing 10.5 million for any fantasy LaLiga managers who wanted him in their teams.

He made 22 starts in the Spanish league and another 12 substitute appearances, meaning he played in 34 league games altogether for Barca during the campaign.

Coutinho contributed five goals and only two assists as he underwhelmed the Camp Nou crowd on a regular basis. Continue reading

Has Coutinho played his last game for Barcelona?

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In hindsight, the gesture from Philippe Coutinho after scoring against Manchester United in the Champions League was ill-advised.

Putting his fingers in his ears as if to say to the Camp Nou crowd ‘I can’t hear you’ was always likely to rile the supporters further.

They’ve never been backwards in coming forwards to let the Brazilian known what they think, but he should’ve had the maturity to ride out the negativity.

It showed, beyond doubt, that there’s a real disconnect between player and fan base. Continue reading

Philippe Coutinho to end underwhelming Barcelona stay

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Philippe Coutinho is likely to be on the move this summer after a hugely underwhelming 18 months at Barcelona. It would be unfair to call his spell a disaster but considering the financial outlay the club made to secure his signature in January 2018 – his signing can only be described as a miss.

The Brazilian international has made 75 appearances for the Catalan giants, has won two league titles and the Copa del Rey crown. But he has not once appeared to be the side’s star man, even on an individual game basis. For the second most expensive player in transfer history, this just simply is not good enough. Continue reading

What next for Barcelona’s Todibo, Murillo and Boateng?

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As we hurtle towards the end of another gruelling La Liga campaign, Barcelona will already be looking towards a successful 2019/20 season, and to that end Eric Abidal will need to do some wheeler-dealing in the transfer market.

With Matthijs De Ligt just one name being mentioned as a possible new signing, it’s clear that the Catalans will have plenty to do across the summer.

The futures of most of their players remain crystal clear, but there are question marks too. Continue reading

Can Semedo and Roberto play together for Barcelona?

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Barcelona are lucky in that they have quality players all over the pitch and a genuine issue with accommodating all of them happily each season.

There are bound to be passengers and those that just can’t get into the side, try as they might.

Though Nelson Semedo and Sergi Roberto don’t really fall into that bracket, neither is playing as much as they should. Continue reading

How Barcelona can beat Liverpool

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The time has come. Barcelona’s biggest, and potentially most difficult game of the season is upon us.

For the second season in a row, Liverpool have reached the Champions League semifinals, and they are at least Barca’s equal in this two-legged affair.

The Reds have history on their side too, as the Catalans have never beaten them over two legs in European competition. Continue reading