Barcelona finished their 2019/20 season in the most catastrophic manner, having ceded the La Liga title to rivals Real Madrid with a whimper and going out of the UEFA Champions League courtesy of an embarrassing 8-2 thrashing at the hands of Bayern Munich.
As was expected, the post-mortem of the season had a very dismal outlook for many of the players in the squad, but with the news of Lionel Messi's stay at the club continuing for the 2020/21 season - there are shoots of hope that spring forth.
Ronald Koeman will be looking to revitalise Barcelona
With new coach Ronald Koeman at the helm bringing fresh ideas, players whose careers were once thought to be dead may garner fresh impetus, while new signings will no doubt be keen to put their stamp on this season's La Liga and UCL campaigns. Here are 5 Barcelona players who could very well surprise you with their performances for the Blaugrana this season.
#5 Philippe Coutinho
Perhaps the strangest sight for a Barcelona fan in their 8-2 hammering at the hands of Bayern Munich was that of their own player, Philippe Coutinho, shining after coming on and grabbing two goals and an assist for the opposition. What has perhaps been forgotten in all the criticism that Coutinho has endured at the hands of the Spanish press is that the Brazilian is actually a very, very good footballer.
Immediately upon his arrival from Liverpool, Coutinho turned in some stellar performances that faded away as he wilted under the burden of his transfer fee. However, with Koeman at the helm, Barcelona might rejig their formation to suit Coutinho's talents much more as the Dutchman has room for Coutinho to play in either a central or a favoured left-sided role.
His agent, Kia Joorabchian had this to say:
"Koeman called him right after the Champions League victory the following day. He told him he's very much in his plans and he'd like him to return. All signs point that Barcelona have changed."
Given that Coutinho had 20 goal involvements (11G/9A) for Bayern Munich last season in 38 appearances (16 of which were as a substitute), perhaps Koeman is right to place his faith in the Brazilian regaining his Samba flair that made Barcelona shell out upwards of €145 million for him.
#4 Francisco Trincao
Plenty of eyebrows were raised when Barcelona announced their signing of Trincao from SC Braga for a reported fee of €31 million in January. The Portuguese wonderkid had barely broken into Braga's first team, but for those in the know, the winger was well worth the money - given that plenty of top clubs had scouted him after a stellar UEFA U-19 European Championship run in 2018.
For a 19 year old to score 9 goals and garner 13 assists for a Portuguese club in a single season is no small feat, and Trincao's performances after the resumption of football post the Covid break have only served to enhance his reputation. Blessed with a wand of a left foot, the youngster can play across all of the forward line (thought he favours cutting inside from the right wing) - a versatility that will no doubt please Koeman.
If the tears of Braga coach Artur Jorge after Trincao made his last appearance for the club weren't enough proof, perhaps the words of the SC Braga President, Antonio Salvador ought to be convincing:
We already know we are going to lose one of our great players, one that I consider the best, one that will define a decade from now, which is Trincao
Of course, there's no better proof than your own eyes, so have a gander.