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BARCELONA

Barça: Coutinho has not found the net for over four months

Barça: Coutinho has not found the net for over four months

The last time the Brazilian bothered the onion bag was 16 Liga fixtures ago against Real Madrid in the Clásico. Since then, he has provided just one assist.

Philippe Coutinho’s position at Barcelona has been under scrutiny for most of the 2018-19 season and his statistics bear out the Barcelona board’s concerns about the former Liverpool forward, who set the Camp Nou coffers back a cool €145 million in January 2018.

In the course of Barça’s last 16 Liga games, of which he has featured in 14, Coutinho has failed to find the net and has provided just one assist. That goal came in a fish-barrel exercise against Julen Lopetegui’s demoralized Real Madrid in the 5-1 Clásico drubbing at Camp Nou last October and the Brazilian has all-but disappeared in terms of goal participations since then.

When the Brazilian arrived from Anfield, his stock had never been higher. And he made an immediate impact, scoring eight times and injecting Barça with a freshness they had been lacking in the opening half of the 2017-18 season.

Barça to keep faith with Coutinho 

Coutinho suffered an injury in Milan against Inter in the Champions League and that has hindered his progress this season, but since his return his form has dipped dramatically. Ousmane Dembélé has been picked ahead of the Brazilian for Barça’s big games since his own return from injury and in recent weeks he has often started on the bench, even with injuries to Arthur and the need to hand a rest to other forward players.

Barcelona’s technical staff have been working to accommodate Coutinho, switching to a 4-3-3 that allows him to operate either in the forward three or as a roving midfielder, but the Brazilian has still not rediscovered the form of last campaign.

Linked with a move to PSG and the object of interest from Serie A, Barça are not yet ready to give up on a player signed with the almost impossible task of replacing Andrés Iniesta. But time is running out for the Brazilian, who could do with an eye-catching performance, and more than anything a goal, when Ryo visit Camp Nou on Saturday evening.