Philippe Coutinho has backed Xavi to be a success at Barcelona – but it turns out that he may be forced out of the club anyway, according to reports.
It’s safe to say things have not gone to plan for Coutinho since he left Liverpool for Barca in 2018. The attacking midfielder has struggled to justify his hefty price tag. He was even loaned out to Bayern Munich for the 2019-20 season but has been stuck back at Barca ever since.
Still under contract until 2023, Barcelona have been trying to offload him for a while. A return to the Premier League could be a possibility for the ex-Liverpool playmaker.
As things stand, though, Coutinho is still a Barcelona player. As such, he has reacted to their recent appointment of Xavi as their new head coach.
“I know that he is a great guy, I am sure he will do a great job at Barcelona,” Coutinho said.
“I hope that he can have a lot of success with the group that we have. He did a great job in Qatar.”
How big a part Coutinho will have in his plans, though, remains to be seen. The Brazilian has started just four La Liga games so far this season.
His future at the club was thrown into fresh doubt at the weekend when he appeared to take his time after being asked to warm up from the bench after Ansu Fati went down with an injury.
Coutinho was ultimately not called upon, although he has disputed some of the stories about why.
“I was very surprised when I saw the news because in all my career I have never been unprofessional,” he said of his delay to warm up. “They can look wherever I went, I always respected everyone. Journalists always believe a lot of things.”
Even so, TV3 claim some Barcelona players are fed up of Coutinho’s attitude and therefore want him gone. One senior player reportedly confronted him about it in the dressing room after.
It may have further harmed his chances of staying at Barcelona. In turn, rumours about a move to the Premier League – particularly Newcastle United – may be on the increase.
Barcelona await Newcastle’s Coutinho move
After their Saudi-backed takeover, Newcastle have big funds to spend. Still in a relegation battle, they may not be able to convince top targets to join them straight away.
But there could be opportunities for them to lure players looking to rebuild their careers as they too grow. Coutinho, still only 29, may fit within that strategy.
In fact, Sport suggest Barcelona are specifically waiting for Newcastle to make their move for Coutinho.
Barca need to sell players before they can buy, ensuring they remain within the La Liga wage cap. By getting Coutinho off the books, they could even accommodate three new players, it is believed.
Barcelona would therefore agree without hesitation to let Coutinho leave for Newcastle if the conditions are right. At present, there is no such offer, but they feel one may arrive due to his status in England.
It remains a waiting game for all concerned, though. The situation will only become clear by January.