Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur target Philippe Coutinho is an ‘unbelievable’ talent capable of inspiring a team like Lionel Messi in the right environment, former Barcelona ace Ronald de Boer has told talkSPORT (11 May, 10:00pm).
As the £142 million Brazilian has found out to his cost, however, there is only room for one talismanic number ten at the Camp Nou.
Coutinho is not the first nor the last superstar footballer to find himself stuck in the shadow of Messi, with his two-year spell at Barcelona proving to be little short of an expensive disaster.
These days, a man who looked a cut above the rest at Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool has found himself farmed out to Bayern Munich as his parent club scour the market for clubs willing to lift a multi-million millstone from around their necks.
BleacherReport claims that Coutinho dreams of a return to the Premier League, although it remains to be seen whether Spurs, Leicester, Everton or Arsenal would be capable of contributing towards his £240,000-a-week wages (the Sun).
De Boer, however, feels that the former Inter Milan ace cannot be written off just yet.
“I think Coutinho was a player where everything [went through] him, every ball went to him at Liverpool. He could probably do less work, basically what Messi does with Barcelona. And the thing is you see how everything works together, it’s like a machine,” the legendary Dutchman says.
“I think we saw that with Barcelona. There’s only one that can do that now and that is Messi.
“It doesn’t mean he is a bad player. It doesn’t mean that you are not a great player when you can’t play for Barcelona – no.”
Newcastle have been linked with making Coutinho their first marquee signing of the Mohammed Bin Salman reign (Metropoles). And, while his reputation has taken a battering in Catalonia, the prospect of a genuinely elite-level play-maker strutting his stuff in black and white should have Magpies fans dreaming of a rebirth of the iconic ‘Entertainers’ era.
The likes of Rafael Van der Vaart, Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben, Alexis Sanchez and Yaya Toure struggled to establish themselves at a Spanish giant before establishing themselves as a truly world-class talent elsewhere.
Coutinho, then, still has a lot to offer.