Brazil

Published on January 7th, 2018 | by BrazilStats

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Philippe Coutinho gambles World Cup future with Barcelona move

Although the long term future for Philippe Coutinho looks bright for the Brazilian at Barcelona, the midfielder is risking his World Cup in Russia

Philippe Coutinho has made a crucial decision that has taken all the headlines in world football. By finally realizing his dream of joining Barcelona, the 25-year old is taking a big gamble, as the World Cup is merely five months away. Was leaving Liverpool at this moment, the right choice for the midfield-maestro?

Not many professional footballers can turn down the opportunity of joining Barcelona and Real Madrid, and it seems that Philippe Coutinho, just like Gareth Bale and Luis Suárez, is no different. The Catalan giants have been chasing the Liverpool-star since the summer transfer window, and have now finally reached an agreement estimated to be around $200 million in total.

Barcelona do not want to repeat the mistake they have done in recent years, when Xavi Hernandez left the club. This time around, they have decided to secure Andrès Iniesta’s replacement early enough, so that they avoid any desperate last-minute signing when the Spain international is no-longer able to decide games. It is clear that the club views Coutinho as Iniesta’s long-term heir, in the advanced central midfield role.

Barça have identified Coutinho as the ideal fit for their system. Thanks to his sublime close-control, technique, ability to retain the ball under pressure, vision and impressive end-product, Philippe is the modern hybrid attacking midfielder and wide play-maker who is versatile enough to occupy any position in the front five. The Brazil international can rotate with Ivan Rakitic, Paulinho, Iniesta, or even on both flanks, as brilliantly displayed with Liverpool and Brazil’s national team.

The way that Coutinho left Anfield was no doubt disappointing, especially for the fans of the club that rescued his career, after Inter Milan had been wasting his potential. The fans do feel betrayed, especially following rumors suggesting that the midfielder skipped training by faking injury, as well as for the timing of the transfer.

Most Liverpool lovers would have probably understood, respected and even supported Coutinho’s decision, if he had at least finished the season at the club, instead of leaving them in the middle of the campaign when they needed him the most.

Joining Barcelona means that Coutinho is no longer eligible to participate in the knockout phases of the Champions League in 2018, which is a shame because he and Roberto Firmino had been one of the competition’s best performers so far. And with FC Porto up next, it would not have been a stretch to expect Liverpool to at least reach the quarter-finals. Guiding your club in the Champions League in World Cup season while wearing the number ten shirt, and vice-captain in most matches, would have been the ideal preparation.

However, the reality is that Coutinho has joined Barcelona, and it is a reality that all parties must accept. With Philippe operating for the next months in central midfield, and potentially teaming-up with Paulinho in several encounters, here is hope that Tite will realize that the 25-year-old is better at occupying this role with Brazil’s national team, instead of Renato Augusto. This has the potential to be a blessing in disguise for the national team, if this condition is fulfilled. In this case, Douglas Costa would occupy the right wing, as Coutinho cements himself in his new midfield role.

Brazil are among the biggest favorites to clinch the title in Russia, which would be the record sixth star. Can Philippe Coutinho’s transfer to Barcelona, inspire the Seleção to success, come the World Cup next summer?

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