Coutinho hits rock bot­tom as Man U trans­fer claims are ramped up

Sunday Observer - - SPORT -

BARCELONA - Philippe Coutinho is at his low­est ever ebb at Barcelona ac­cord­ing to re­ports in Spain, who now claim the play­maker is ready to seek a re­turn to the Premier League.

The Brazil in­ter­na­tional is only a year into his con­tract at the Camp Nou fol­low­ing his £142mil­lion move from Liver­pool last Jan­uary.

How­ever, he has so far failed to jus­tify the heavy price tag and Ernesto Valverde hasn’t started him in a LaLiga match since De­cem­ber 2– and over­all has only started one of their last nine games, with Arthur

Melo a nd Ar­turo Vi­dal seem­ingly now pre­ferred in mid­field.

Coutinho only played seven min­utes in Barcelona‘s nar­row 2-1 win over Getafe on Sun­day and amid claims Manch­ester United were re­port­edly ‘in talks’ over a po­ten­tial move which would cost in ex­cess of £100mil­lion.

Now Marca claim Coutinho has “hit rock bot­tom” at Barcelona and is look­ing to re­turn to the Premier League at the first avail­able op­por­tu­nity.

A move back to Liver­pool would be his pref­er­ence, and while re­ports on Fri­day suggested the Reds were ‘ex­plor­ing ways in which they could fi­nance the pack­age ’, it seems Manch­ester United are the only side cur­rently will­ing to meet his £100m ask­ing price.

Fur­ther doubts over Coutinho’s fu­ture has been raised by claims by Valverde’s as­sis­tant, Jon Aspi­azu, who claims the Brazil­ian has ‘shown lit­tle dis­ci­pline on and off the field’.

“Per­haps he’s not at the level he was last year,” Aspi­azu told Gol TV be­fore Thurs­day’s game. “(Ous­mane) Dem­bele has over­taken him a lit­tle bit, but he’s a player we con­sider to be a starter and he’ll be very im­por­tant for us for the rest of the sea­son .” Mean­while, Val verde him­self told Coutinho he had to work hard to change the sit­u­a­tion.

“When (Ous­mane) Dem­bele wasn’t play­ing, ev­ery­one was ask­ing about him,” Valverde said af­ter the Le­vante game.

“Now Coutinho isn’t play­ing and it’s the other way around. When a player isn’t play­ing or isn’t happy, he has to fight to re­vert the sit­u­a­tion.”

And re­ports that he is be­ing cov­eted by United re­ceived this re­sponse from Barcelona di­rec­tor Guillermo Amor ear­lier in the week.

Philippe Coutinho.

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