Philippe Coutinho’s Opportunities for Brazil and Barcelona

Ousmane Dembele is currently an injury doubt when Barcelona play against Lyon during the second leg of the round of 16 for the Champions League. Vinicius Junior and Neymar are not available for Brazil’s friendlies towards the end of the month against the Czech Republic and Panama. This means that, for both country and club, opportunities are available for Philippe Coutinho. However, he currently stands at the crossroads and the next few days will shed some much-needed light on where he will be heading.

Personality and Position are Two Problem Areas for Philippe Coutinho

There’s nothing pretentious or barnstorming about Philippe Coutinho. The 26-year-old comes across as an accurate introverted figure who is not the walking into a new environment where he can impose himself while bending it to his will. His career hasn’t been the easiest when it comes to stepping up. For instance, with Brazil, he flopped at under-17 level and only really started to shine during the second half of last year.

When it comes to club football, Coutinho managed to make a lot of profit for Liverpool. The club picked him up for next to nothing from Inter Millan. Even though they had a long-term relationship with the football star, they eventually gave up on him and let him go for a token fee. However, Liverpool made him feel truly important as well as Mauricio Pochettino while he was playing for Espanyol.

However, Barcelona provides a far more challenging environment. Coutinho had to go to the club instead of Barcelona coming to him. He also had to perfectly fit the structure surrounding Messi while justifying his enormous transfer fee. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to accomplish that as of yet, and supporters are losing their patience. For instance, he was booed when leaving the field against Rayo Vallecano. This treatment can be quite dangerous, providing more force to a spiral of low self-esteem.

Thankfully, this can be reversed when he provides a phenomenal performance when he plays against Lyon. However, this opens up a second problem for the player, where should he play? Can he be considered in the midfield three, an attacking member, or an attacking trio member? Valverde eventually decided that his best role is a full member when it comes to the front three.

Playing for Brazil

Brazil decided to go in a completely different direction. Coutinho was initially a backup on the wide left for Neymar. However, he was over-worked in his role and lost his striking potency. Therefore, we will likely see him in a midfield role for the upcoming Brazil friendlies which is considered his most natural position. However, without Junior or Neymar on the pitch, it does provide more problems for the player going forward. Will he return to a wide left position or remain in a midfield role? Both Barcelona and Brazil need to decide where to place Coutinho in the upcoming games to ensure he shines.