One of the most decisive, creative playmakers could be made available for transfer shortly. According to several reports – mostly coming out of England – there’s belief that FC Barcelona would be open to sell Philippe Coutinho. And one of the potential destinations, according to the Evening Standard, would be Manchester United.
Let’s be honest – who wouldn’t want Coutinho at Old Trafford? He already has plenty of experience playing in the Premier League from his Liverpool days, and it would be fair his best days came when playing for the Anfield side. But could he be considered a realistic transfer target, either during January or during next summer?
Let’s analyse his current situation at Barcelona, as well as trying to explain where he would fit and if he would fit with the club’s transfer budget.
What’s going on with Coutinho at Barcelona?
The Brazil international joined Los Blaugranas exactly one year and two days ago. So far, there have been mixed reviews regarding what he has done with the Camp Nou outfit. He got off to an impressive start with the club last season, but hasn’t been able to repeat those performances during the current term. In fact, Coutinho has started only one of the club’s last five competitive matches and has struggled to make an impact when given the chance.
The numbers do not lie, though – Coutinho has 15 goals and 10 assists in 45 appearances across all competitions. He’s been serviceable – on the worst-case scenario – and can be a creative threat when given confidence. But Barca are keen to re-sign Neymar, and Coutinho seems like the best alternative to get some fresh funds in order to finance the return of the PSG star. In that sense, he would be available for transfer given the right offer.
Could Manchester United sign him?
This is a tricky question. Coutinho is a player almost every team in the world would be open to sign, so there would be competition. PSG are reportedly interested in him – if he becomes available. And we can only guess other top sides in the world would be keen to make a move as well. And while The Red Devils have money, they’re not in a position where they could engage on a bidding war with teams owning Middle East resources. It’s just not realistic.
…but does he fit within the current system?
There’s no doubt Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would welcome him with open arms. He would be perfect for the n.° 10 hole, and would represent an immediate upgrade over Jesse Lingard. His (potential) arrival would allow Paul Pogba to play as a central midfielder, the position he knows best. A midfield duo of Pogba and Coutinho would create an inmense amount of chances for the attacking players. Alexis Sanchez, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku would benefit from his presence.
Even if Solskjaer does not want to move Pogba from the attacking-midfielder role he’s been deployed in, there would still be enough space for Coutinho. He’s versatile enough to play on both wings, and could even see time as a creative-minded central midfielder. That kind of versatility is always a plus, especially in a player as technically-gifted as the Brazilian.
He would be a great signing, but…
It remains to be seen whether Coutinho will become available. Plus, Barca won’t break their core midway through the season, so Coutinho could end up staying put… until the end of the season at least. But if he somehow ends up on the transfer market, Manchester United should move for him. He would be an excellent addition to a side clearly needing a boost in the final third.