Barcelona have this peculiar habit of attracting players from other clubs by allowing their own players to comment on transfers. Unlike in England, where managers and players usually refuse to comment on transfers publicly (especially if that player is a potential target) in Barcelona, they do not adhere to the same principle.
Few years back, almost every Barcelona players were literally pleading to Arsene Wenger to allow Cesc Fabregas rejoin his hometown club. Barca players deliberately spoke about Fabregas in almost each and every interviews they gave. The similar tactics were followed when they attempted to sign Alex Song and Luis Suarez from Arsenal and Liverpool as well.
It seems, we are going to witness the similar pattern once again, after Barcelona superstar Neymar admitted that he would like to play with Liverpool’s highly talented attacking midfielder Philippe Coutinho at Nou Camp.
Roberto Carlos: “People are always talking about whether Messi or Ronaldo is the best, but for me it’s Neymar” pic.twitter.com/ELbqbq4Lte
— Leo Messi (@messi10stats) September 22, 2015
Neymar claims that Coutinho, his good friend and national teammate, is an ideal fit at Barcelona. The Brazilian said in an interview as quoted by Mirror: “I see many Brazilian players with quality today. But one that I like and I think I could play here is Coutinho. He has the style of Barcelona.”
Coutinho’s talent was never in doubt, but the ‘little magician’ was often criticised for his lack of consistency. He has improved on that area immensely and in the past 12 months, the Brazilian has become a key member in the current Liverpool squad.
What has significantly improved in his game is his decision making over picking up the right passes. Previously, he would have attempted ambitious through balls every now and then, but now he has a better understanding of when to play the right pass.
With 12 accurate through balls so far in 2015 Premier League, he holds a better record than the likes of Ozil, Sanchez and Fabregas, and stands only behind Manchester City’s David Silva in this department.
Coutinho could be an ideal replacement for Andres Iniesta in the Barcelona team. The Spain wizard is approaching the twilight of his career, and Barca need an able replacement for him. To play at an iconic club alongside the likes of Suarez-Messi-Neymar and other world class players is a tempting proposition and probably Coutinho won’t be able to resist that if he is presented the opportunity.
However, he still needs to improve on his poor finishing. While he now takes more shots from distance, a sign of a confident player, but what really matters is, how many of them he hits the target. He has scored some outstanding long range goals in the past 12 months, including against Stoke City in the season opener, but his ratio of hitting the target to the number of shots taken gives a grim reading.
Barcelona will be looking to add more quality players to their ranks once their transfer ban is lifted and the Blaugrana might make a formal approach to sign Coutinho next summer. Liverpool in that case will command a hefty transfer fee, but the Reds will be helpless to prevent him from leaving, should they fail to make it to the top four yet again.