Barcelona outcast Philippe Coutinho has been linked with a host of Premier League clubs, with Arsenal being the latest addition to the long list. The 27-year-old is currently playing for Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, who signed him on a one-year loan deal with an option of making the move permanent last summer.
However, the Bavarians have confirmed that they will not activate the Brazilian’s €120 million buy-out clause, thus leaving the door open for other clubs to get him on board. In a recent interview, Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge confirmed that they will not be signing Philippe Coutinho permanently.
“The option has already expired and we have not exercised it. Now we will have to complete the squad planning for next season and we will see if the player can still have a role to play with us or not.”
While the likes of Chelsea, Newcastle United and Manchester United being credited with showing interest in signing the former Liverpool star, another Premier League outfit, Arsenal have made a late entry to lure the Brazilian away from Barcelona, according to reports.
So, we have tried to analyze whether Philippe Coutinho will be a good fit for the north London giants.
Strengthening the midfield
Just like his managerial godfather Pep Guardiola, Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta feels comfortable in fielding a bunch of midfielders in his starting XI. Since taking charge of the Gunners in December last year, the Spaniard has more often than not used a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Mesut Özil, who hardly played under former manager Unai Emery, occupying the number 10 role.
Despite having an excellent array of midfielders in their squad, Arsenal have lacked someone proper on the left side who can often drift inside with his favoured right foot and find Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Alexandre Lacazette with defence-splitting passes.
With Nicolas Pépé and Mesut Özil being left-footed and occupying more or less the right flank or right-sided midfield region, Arsenal have failed to stretch games on numerous occasions due to their lack of a proper creative midfielder, who can occupy certain spaces on the left and help left wing-back Bukayo Saka to be more involved in proceedings.
Philippe Coutinho can fill in the aforementioned role with ease as was often deployed in a similar position during his Liverpool days.
Premier League experience
Speaking of Coutinho’s stint at Liverpool, if Arsenal do manage to sign the diminutive Brazilian, they will have a player with proven Premier League pedigree under his belt. In fact, Coutinho made a name for himself while playing for the Reds.
In 200 odd appearances for the Merseyside club, the 27-year-old scored 45 goals, in addition to providing 54 assists. While being a key player under Jurgen Klopp, Philippe Coutinho was also an important clog in Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool team, which almost won the Premier League title in 2013-14.
Proven match winner
Known for his terrific long-range curlers, Philippe Coutinho is a quick, agile and versatile attacking midfielder. During his time at Anfield, the Brazil international scored an impressive 18 goals from outside the box.
So, Arsenal will have the added advantage of having an out-an-out match-winner in their ranks if they can get the Barcelona misfit on board.
Coutinho’s rough patch
Since his big-money move to Barcelona in January 2018, Philippe Coutinho has looked a shadow of his former self. In 76 appearances in all competitions for the Catalan giants, the versatile midfielder has only managed to find the back of the net 21 times.
While playing for Bayern Munich, he has scored just nine times in 32 games. Coutinho’s trademark elite vision, pace, dribbling, and passing ability, all seemed to be lacking during his recent outings for the German giants.
One of the key reasons why Philippe Coutinho is yet to fulfil his true potential is his injury-prone nature. In this gruelling day and age of football, a player is bound to get injured, but some footballers are fragile and tend to pick up injuries quite often. Unfortunately, Coutinho falls in that category.
Since joining Liverpool from Inter Milan in January 2013, the Seleção international has been sidelined for over 320 days, suffering several types of injuries in the process. The 27-year-old is yet to recover from an ankle injury he picked up in April and is scheduled to be out of action until the 7th of June.
So, to sum it up, it seems a huge gamble from Arsenal’s point of view to bring in someone who has struggled for consistency in recent times. Moreover, Arsenal have to spend big in order to bring Philippe Coutinho to the Emirates, given Barcelona’s quest to cash in on the flop Brazilian.