Chelsea’s plan to rescue Philippe Coutinho from his Barcelona struggles and bring the player back to the Premier League has been met with fierce criticism from Stan Collymore.
The Catalan giants will allow Coutinho to complete a permanent transfer away from the Camp Nou, if they can recoup £80million.
However, due to the current global economic crisis, Barca may be willing to drop that figure to as little as £65m to secure the player’s exit and bring on some funds to invest in other targets – a massive reduction on the £142m package they agreed with Liverpool to bring him to the club in 2018 and leaving the Reds with a massive cash shortfall.
And with Coutinho reported to have given Chelsea a resounding ‘yes’ to a return to the Premier League at Stamford Bridge, talks are reportedly ongoing at how the deal to bring in the Brazilian will be structured.
However, their plans to sign Coutinho have been slammed by Gary Neville, who offered a seven-word critique of Chelsea’s plan.
And Chelsea’s intentions of shelling out such a mammoth fee on Coutinho has also been met with opposition by former Liverpool man Collymore.
Writing in his Daily Mirror column, Collymore explained why the Brazilian is overrated in a scathing criticism of the player.
“If Frank Lampard signs Philippe Coutinho it could well be his first mistake as Chelsea manager,” Collymore said.
“The Brazilian would help an Everton, a West Ham or possibly Wolves – tier-two Premier League clubs whose usual aim is to finish between sixth and eighth.
“He’d put bums on seats and sell the notion to supporters that their club is working hard to break into the Champions League.
“But he is not going to help a team that is already there get any better, because he is one of the most overrated attacking midfielders in the game.
“Being Brazilian has given him a level of kudos that he wouldn’t have if he was from, say, Slovakia, and coming from the same group as Neymar added to it.
“Yet in 90 per cent of matches he actually offers very little in terms of taking a game by the scruff of its neck – he’s a flat-track bully, the player who scores a couple of wonder goals in a 5-0 rout when most of the work has been done.
“While Liverpool fans liked him for his ability to score a worldie or produce a moment of magic, many knew he was an icing-on-the-cake player.
“I remember when talk first surfaced of him leaving Anfield, the figures being mooted were £50-£60million and I put a poll on Twitter asking fans if they would let him go for that.
“The overwhelming majority of those who responded said they would — and plenty added the classic, ‘I’ll drive him to John Lennon Airport for that.’
“They knew the showreel was a delight to watch but they also knew that if you looked under the hood you’d see a player who doesn’t own games, and certainly not the biggest ones.”
Chelsea have also been linked with a move for Kai Havertz as a Plan B, though any deal for the Bayer Leverkusen man would likely set them back nearer £80m.
And continuing in his destruction of Coutinho, Collymore added: “You’d see a very nice young man with a nice demeanour but someone who doesn’t have the killer instinct to do the ruthless stuff at a big club.
“I’ll bet those supporters couldn’t believe their luck when they got £130m-odd for him.
“At Barcelona, he was mentally overshadowed by Lionel Messi and players such as Luis Suarez, street kids who are strong, who have that bit of Diego Maradona spite about them.
“Players who look at new kids coming along and say, ‘He ain’t going to be the top man here’.
“Coutinho then went to Bayern Munich and couldn’t quite be the top man there, and I don’t see he could do it at Chelsea either.”
Meanwhile, Liverpool are reportedly preparing to offer veteran forward Dries Mertens a three-year deal in a bid to beat Chelsea and Newcastle to the Napoli star. Read more…