How is Philipe Coutinho's arrival going to improve Barcelona?
Thoughts on how Philipe Coutinho will improve Barcelona's squad.
The biggest transfer saga since last summer has finally concluded. Liverpool and Barcelona have reached an agreement over Philippe Coutinho and the transfer fee has been reported to be £142 million.
Liverpool rejected three bids from Barcelona last summer for the Brazilian but finally decided to let him go for a hefty fee. It is probably Mohamed Salah's brilliant form which made Liverpool open to the transfer of their star player.
The Brazilian was unveiled at the Camp Nou three weeks ago and every Barcelona fan was happy with his arrival. He will no doubt make the squad much stronger and help the Blaugranas win silverware in the coming years.
What will he bring to the club?
Coutinho is the ideal long-term replacement of Andres Iniesta. Iniesta has been instrumental in Barcelona's success since the days of Pep Guardiola, however, is nearing the end of his career and the Spanish club need a successor for the midfielder.
Coutinho has been in brilliant form this season scoring 15 goals and assisting 8 in just 25 appearances for the Reds. The playmaker has every skill required to be a great attacking midfielder: brilliant vision, cheeky dribbles to beat the defenders, quick passing, positioning off the ball, incisive through passes, great composure, precise finishing and powerful long shots - he possesses everything any manager wants in his attacking midfielder.
Coutinho makes almost 2.8 key passes per game and records a 81% passing accuracy even in Liverpool's long ball based game. Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde may pair him up with the likes of Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets or Paulinho in midfield or even play him on the left-wing to support Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi or Ousmane Dembele in the attack, depending on the situation. A versatile player like him gives much more options to the manager for deciding the formation and tactics.
In the recent games, we have seen Messi playing a much central role rather than in his preferred right-wing position. The Argentine No.10 has performed the role of a playmaker linking up the midfield and the attack.
Due to this, Valverde has switched from Barcelona's traditional 4-3-3 to a new 4-4-2 system. Messi has been brilliant in the recent games for Barcelona in his new role, but everyone knows that he can be more deadly when cutting in from the wings.
Messi's presence on the wings means that the opposing defence is going to get stretched and will give much space for the midfielders and Luis Suarez to exploit. Coutinho's presence in midfield will allow Messi to play from the wings.
Barcelona's current midfield line-up is undoubtedly one of the best in the world. Busquets, Iniesta, Rakitic and Paulinho supported by Andre Gomes and Rafinha on the bench is one of the world's finest.
However, the Spanish log leaders' midfield lacks some element of surprise and the addition of Coutinho will add a bit of spark in that area of the pitch. This element of surprise provided will be enough to confuse opposition defenders. If they keep Coutinho free, he can run riot in the opposition half, while tight marking of Coutinho will give loads of space to his other teammates to exploit. Add to this his ability to hit accurate long range shots and he is sure to be a nightmare of the defenders in La Liga.
Coutinho played with teammate Suarez at Liverpool a few years ago and his arrival can lift the Uruguayan up to his best form. Suarez is sure to get more final passes and scoring chances with players like Messi, Dembele and Coutinho around him.
The current Barcelona squad have successfully recovered from the shock of Neymar's departure and have been ruthless under their new manager. They are comfortably seated at the top of the La Liga table with a massive lead of 11 points. The acquisition of a big player always lifts up the morale of the entire squad and similarly, the name of Coutinho on the squad list will boost the morale of every Barcelona player and this boost will prove decisive during the upcoming crucial games.
Coutinho, though, will not be able to play for Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League this season, as he is cup-tied, having already featured for Liverpool. Barcelona fans can only enjoy the brilliance of Coutinho in the league and cup games for the rest of the season.
In conclusion, since last summer it has been clear that Coutinho wanted a move to Barcelona. He tried his best to get the transfer done during the summer but a determined Jurgen Klopp stood in the way, therefore, the Brazil international is obviously raring to announce his arrival to the Camp Nou with some exciting performances.