Bengaluru, August 20: Marcelo Biesla, the legendary Argentine manager and football tactician once told now Birmingham City manager Pep Clotet, “You may have seen hundreds of videos, investigated his injuries, his history, his private life, analysed his statistics in depth.
"You can know everything about him, but there is an uncontrollable variable: how he will adapt to his new habitat. It is impossible to know because it is a new reality, something new for everyone that cannot be analysed before his arrival.”
Bielsa's words were right on point. No matter how big a player is, no one can predict how he will adapt in a new team in a new country.
Philippe Coutinho is truly a generational talent and his exploits with Liverpool was the reason why he was the chosen one of a club like Barcelona and they signed for a fee that was second most in world football then.
Under Jurgen Klopp, Coutinho became an elite player which he was always destined to become one day and then came his big chance to join his dream club Barcelona. Klopp told his beloved number ten, “Stay here and we will end up building a statue in your honour. Go to another club and you will end up being another player. Here you can be something else.”
Coutinho probably will feel that he should have listened to Klopp back then but you cannot expect a south American player to say no to Barcelona and especially the opportunity to play alongside Lionel Messi.
Coutinho's start to life at Camp Nou was pretty good. He could not feature for them in the Champions League as he was cup tied but domestically, he did an excellent job. It looked like Barcelona had found the ideal replacement of the iconic Andres Iniesta.
The flamboyant midfielder started to score goals and lay on assists becoming an important presence in a short span of time. He notched eight goals in La Liga and two in the Copa del Rey, scoring in the semifinals against Valencia and in the final against Sevilla. He provided five assists in LaLiga and another in the Cup.
His return was really great in his first season and nothing more could be asked from a player in half a season who is adjusting himself in a new league having spent a long time in England where conditions are much different.
However, things changed a lot in his first full season with the club when he was started to be seen as a replacement of Neymar rather than being a replacement of Iniesta.
It was nothing short of a betrayal by Barcelona as he was promised to be played in midfield. He never was a winger neither he is made to play out wide but Ernesto Valverde could not offer him a place in his natural attacking midfield role.
It was hardly a surprise that the Brazilian started to feel out of place in a role which is not his natural one and it eventually led to his influence on the pitch diminish by quite a lot.
Once in a while, he had a few good games thanks to his natural ability but a player like Coutinho who is born to play centrally just cannot shine in a wide role. However, despite being used in a wrong position, he never complained and stayed professional which Barcelona fans should recognize.
If Bayern can use him properly, he surely can regain his reputation and there is a chance he may never return to feature in a Barca shirt and Barcelona will have only themselves to blame for that. Football fans will only hope that they can witness the Brazilian magician showcasing his magic once again at the Allianz Arena.