Can Spurs revitalise Coutinho?
The future had looked so bright for Philippe Coutinho when he completed his dream move to Barcelona in January 2018.
The Brazilian was the man tasked with replacing compatriot Neymar as part of Barca’s formidable front three alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, and the Spaniards stumped up to get him.
However, 18 months on and Barcelona have made it one of their summer priorities to get rid of the man they paid 142million euros for, with Antoine Griezmann having been anointed as the new chosen one to join the holy duo of Messi and Suarez up top.
Coutinho has been offered around the majority of Europe’s top clubs but nearly all have said “no thanks” when told he would cost £100million. So now, Barca are prepared to let him go out on loan and Tottenham have made it clear they want him.
Spurs clearly believe they can get the best out of a player who managed 11 goals and five assists in 54 appearances for Barcelona last season. They clearly have longer memories than some who have been quick to write off the South American despite his sensational form when at Liverpool.
The £140m+ plus Barcelona player has flattered to deceive and the stats back that up. pic.twitter.com/nuabrrJdqj
— Dominic (@MessiClass10i) June 1, 2019
The 27-year-old left Anfield having notched 51 goals and 45 assists in 201 appearances for the Reds. It would seem then that the grey and cold of England suits Coutinho more than the 300 days of sunshine Barcelona enjoys.
Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino also has a relationship with Coutinho, working with him while in charge of Espanyol and clearly feels he can find a role for him in this Tottenham team.
Coutinho’s arrival could be part of a busy end to the transfer window for Spurs, with Juventus forward Paulo Dybala also in talks to move. However, the club cannot afford to sign both men without making some sacrifices and Christian Eriksen’s future is up in the air amid links to Manchester United, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid.
The Dane only has 12 months left on his contract and Tottenham are eager for him to stay. However, Eriksen has given little indication he wants to sign an extension and with chairman Daniel Levy being the ruthless businessman that he is, the creative midfielder could be sold.
However, if it comes down to one more year of Eriksen or bringing in Coutinho, surely there can only be one winner? No player in the Premier League has had more assists since Eriksen made his debut for the north London outfit in 2013, while he created 10 big chances for team-mates in the league last season.
Eriksen scores to make it 2-0. pic.twitter.com/33z4Mxl2EG
— Tottenham Tickets (@TicketTottenham) July 31, 2019
He occupies the role that Coutinho would want to fill, albeit they are slightly different types of players, with the Brazilian keen to dribble at the opposition while Eriksen is more suited to being a deep-lying playmaker.
Coutinho’s issue at Barcelona is that he has not nailed down a specific role in the team, failing to convince either up front or in midfield. Could he have a similar issue at Tottenham, with Dele Alli and Heung-min Son also to factor into the equation?
Swapping Coutinho for Eriksen should not be considered a step forward for a team eager to be considered title challengers and might even be viewed as half a step back. Coutinho has the potential to come good again but will represent a significant risk taken by a side with plenty of momentum behind them heading into the new season.