Top source: Coutinho still has a long-term future at Barca
- The Brazilian has lost his place in the starting XI to Dembele.
- He is now linked with the Premier League return.
- Nevertheless, ESPN FC sources claim Barcelona keep putting their trust in Coutinho.
- However, they are not certain whether he fits into Valverde's system.
- The coach is reluctant to put the Brazilian deeper in the midfield where he prefers to play.
- Barca director Amor supports the 26-year-old: "We are happy with his performances."
Philippe Coutinho has been heavily criticised of late. Even though the Brazilian has started in each of Barcelona's last three matches, he has been taken off close to the hour-mark of the game. Moreover, the 26-year-old has lost his position in the starting line-up to Ousmane Dembele and only Frenchman's ankle injury allowed him to start against Valencia, Real Madrid and Athletic Club.
It seems odd for the Catalans to keep their €160 million signing on the bench, however, that is the sad reality. Coutinho has already been linked with sensational Premier League return as Chelsea reportedly see him as Eden Hazard's replacement following the Belgian's all-but-confirmed move to Real Madrid.
However, sources close to FC Barcelona have recently informed ESPN FC that Coutinho has still a long-term future at the Camp Nou stadium despite recent criticism. Nevertheless, there are some doubts about whether he fits into Ernesto Valverde's system.
Barcelona believe record signing Philippe Coutinho has a long-term future at the club despite recent criticism although there are doubts over where he fits into the side. [espn] pic.twitter.com/LKiKQbaJ0K— Barça Centre (@barcacentre) February 11, 2019
The Brazilian has seemingly failed to replace Neymar at the left-wing position, however, the boss reluctantly puts him deeper in the midfield where the 26-year-old actually prefers to play.
Coutinho has scored just eight goals in 33 games in all competitions since the start of the 2018/2019 campaign, however, the local press criticize him mercilessly. The chief editor of the main Catalan newspaper Diario Sport, Ernest Folch, believes the disappointing stalemate against Athletic Club was 'now or never' for the Brazilian.
Dembele, Malcom, even Boateng who is versatile, would all be higher on my depth chart than Coutinho. Problem is you can't sit 160m.— kevinwilliams (@kevvwill) February 10, 2019
Barcelona director Guillermo Amor, meanwhile, supports the misfiring Brazilian. He is quoted by Diario Sport right after the whistle of the Athletic draw: "We are happy with his performances. He has to give us a lot, and he will. Every time he plays he shows his quality. He takes risks, he tries to make things happen. He is being watched through a magnifying glass at the moment but we believe he's going to keep moving forward."