Philippe Coutinho’s £105m move to Barcelona from Liverpool in 2018 may well go down as one of the biggest transfer flops in football history.
The Brazilian has won a handful of trophies in Catalonia but has never been a big influence on the Barca squad and never been able to recapture the form that made him one of the Premier League’s star players during his time on Merseyside.
With Barcelona looking to reduce their wage bill, the inconsistent and expensive Coutinho is expected to be ushered out of the door this January, with former team-mate Steven Gerrard expected to make a move to bring him to Villa Park.
There will undoubtedly be other suitors however, for a player that has won the Champions League, La Liga, Bundesliga and a host of domestic trophies in his career thus far. We take a look at some of the Brazilian’s options if he is to depart Camp Nou during this window.
Many would argue that Coutinho’s move to Barcelona back in 2018 worked out better for Liverpool than it did for the player himself, as the Reds reinvested the transfer fee to bring in the excellent Alisson Becker and Virgil van Dijk.
However, for a spell before Jurgen Klopp’s vision for the club really came to life, Coutinho was the star man in a Liverpool side that appeared to be progressing towards something special and as such, he is still viewed by many Reds’ fans in a rather romantic way.
Coutinho has hardly been at his best since leaving Anfield but has added more silverware to his cabinet thanks to the trophies he has collected at Barcelona and his loan spell at Bayern Munich and would be returning to Merseyside with a real winner’s reputation, even if he hasn’t been at his scintillating best for either of those two clubs.
Whether he is worthy of a starting spot in Klopp’s current Liverpool vintage is another question, but a return to Anfield would surely interest the player himself more than any of the other available options right now.
Philippe Coutinho club after January transfer window odds (via Sky Bet)
With Steven Gerrard having been so bullish about Aston Villa’s pull in the transfer market so far this January, links emerging between Coutinho and the Midlands outfit were inevitable, with the Villains boss having shared a dressing room with the Brazilian during his time at Anfield. However, when asked, Gerrard was coy about a potential move for Coutinho.
“He’s a friend of mine so if I’m asked the questions I can speak for as long as you want. But if you’re trying to link it to any speculation or catch me out you’re in for a long afternoon.”
While a move to Liverpool for example would see Coutinho likely to be a fringe player at best, his signature would perhaps be seen as a coup by Aston Villa and an environment where his talents are truly appreciated could be what the 29 year old requires to kickstart his career again.
Watching Antonio Conte attempt to rebuild Tottenham’s reputation has been intriguing so far, but it’s clear to see that for all the pace and goalscoring power of Lucas Moura, Heung-min Son and Harry Kane, their midfield lacks creativity right now.
Tanguy Ndombele has been tasked with linking midfield to attack but lacks consistency, while Dele Alli flatters to deceive having failed to reach the heights of his break-out 2016/2017 campaign in the following years.
Coutinho has been linked with Tottenham before as a potential loan signing in previous windows and as a short-term option he could fill the whole in their squad that hasn’t really been replaced since the departure of Christian Eriksen to Inter Milan two years ago.
While the Brazilian may see Aston Villa as too far a drop from Barcelona and Liverpool as a club where game time would be limited, Tottenham may provide a perfect middle ground if he’s to leave Camp Nou before the end of the window.