Copa America 2019: 'We need Coutinho, especially now with the absence of Neymar' , says Thiago Silva
What's the story?
Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil defender Thiago Silva has urged Barcelona outcast Philippe Coutinho to step up his game for the national team in the Copa America, especially in the absence of Neymar Jr.
In case you didn't know
Since leaving Liverpool for Barcelona, Coutinho has struggled to replicate his Premier League form in La Liga and has grown into a divisive figure among the Catalan faithful.
The former Reds star made 54 appearances in all competitions for the Catalan giants in the recently-concluded campaign, scoring 11 goals and providing 5 assists. His performance and numbers do not appear to justify his €120 million price tag.
Internationally, Coutinho proved himself to be more than useful with Brazil's latest 7-0 thrashing of Honduras as proof. The Blaugrana man netted a penalty and provided one assist to help his side to a comfortable victory in their final friendly before the Copa America.
The heart of the matter
While acknowledging Coutinho's torrid season at Camp Nou, Silva has urged him to step up when the Copa America begins, especially since Neymar has been sidelined due to an injury.
According to Goal, the defender said, "The collective game comes first. Coutinho had a difficult season in Barcelona. It was demanding and they booed him many times, but here in the team he is our reference, especially when we don't have Neymar."
"Coutinho calls for the game. In the two friendlies we played, he was the best player on the pitch, not only because of passes and goals but also with his defence. He is finding his happiness again."
"I'm very happy and not at all comfortable talking about this player because we are very close. In the first friendly, I tried to pass him some calmness, and I told Neymar also to give him help."
He concluded, "We need him, especially now with the absence of Neymar."
Tite's Brazil will kick off their Copa America campaign with a game against Bolivia on Friday.