ESPN’s Barcelona correspondent Samuel Marsden has revealed the key reason why Philippe Coutinho is struggling at the moment.
The Brazilian has been heavily linked with moves to Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain over the last few months.
A report on Thursday claimed that Barcelona are now ‘ready to listen to offers in excess of £80million’ for the 26-year-old with a move to PSG ‘the most plausible option’.
The report in Goal added that any transfer to the Red Devils ‘does not seem likely’ with Coutinho having concerns about moving back to England after his family failed to fully settle during his spell at Liverpool.
Rumours were rife in the January transfer window that the Red Devils were interested in taking Coutinho to Old Trafford following the Brazilian’s mixed start to life at the Camp Nou.
The former Liverpool playmaker was whistled at by fans for his performance during Barcelona’s 3-1 victory over Rayo Vallecano earlier in March, which ended when he was substituted with 10 minutes to go.
“I’m not sure his form is do with the fee, I think it’s more to do with a positional thing,” Marsden told the Liverpool Echo’s Blood Red podcast.
“Robert Fernandez, the sporting director who signed him, but who is now not in the job, he does punditry on television, and he’s spoken a bit about Coutinho in the last few weeks.
“He’s of the firm opinion that Coutinho’s best position would be in midfield, and the idea was that he would come and sort of step into [Andres] Iniesta’s role, on that inside left position, and from the start of the season that’s where we did see him play.
“But Valverde quickly dropped him from that role because he felt that Barca needed a midfield prepared to work more and defend, and having Coutinho was almost like having a fourth attacker rather than having a third midfielder.
“So Coutinho was then moved to the left-wing and [Ousmane] Dembele was dropped and there were problems with Dembele.
“But then Coutinho got injured, Dembele got his act together, got into the team and did well.
“So from feeling like he didn’t have a home in the team, to then getting injured, and then losing his place to Dembele, it’s all contributed to knocking his confidence.
“He’s had his moments but it’s not the Coutinho we saw at Liverpool and it’s hard to see how he recovers his spark.
“Valverde has given Coutinho a lot of chances, probably more chances that he would have given other players, because of the fee that Barca paid for him, and obviously the quality he has as well.
“He seemed like a player playing without confidence at times and Valverde kept playing him and stuck with him to try and bring that confidence back.
“But he’s not quite managed to get that confidence or spark back that he did have when he first joined the club.”
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