Philippe Coutinho finds himself at a crossroads in his career. Not wanted by Barcelona, where will the Brazilian playmaker end up next season?

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From one of the most coveted attacking midfielders in Europe to an outcast, Philippe Coutinho’s fall from the grace has been rather swift.

The Brazilian rose to great heights during his time at Liverpool, earning himself a dream move to Barcelona in January 2018. But his spell with the La Liga champions has been an unmitigated disaster. 

Having struggled to nail down a place for himself at Camp Nou in the first eighteen months of his stint, Coutinho was loaned out to Bayern Munich last summer. While he has fared decently in Germany, once again he hasn’t been able to nail down a spot for himself with the likes of Leon Goretzka and Thomas Muller preferred over him in the No. 10 role.

Bayern had the option of making the 27-year-old's transfer permanent, but aren’t interested in doing so, meaning he will return to Barcelona when the season ends. But the Brazilian is an unwanted commodity at Camp Nou as well, with the Catalans intent on offloading him.

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Not wanted at Bayern or Barcelona, Coutinho finds himself in limbo with regard to his future. And here we assess where the former Liverpool star’s next destination could be;

Chelsea

The rumour mill has been buzzing with reports of Chelsea’s interest in Coutinho. Frank Lampard has done a solid job in his debut season as the Blues’ manager, helping them to a fourth place. He has done so without any major investment to the squad in the last two transfer windows.

But winds of change are afoot at Stamford Bridge. Willian and Pedro are some of the senior members that are likely to be shown the doors this summer, which would leave some vacancies within the squad. So, there will be reinforcements arriving in the summer. 

But the interest in Coutinho doesn’t make total sense. In Mason Mount, Lampard has found a young and dynamic attacking midfielder, who has impressed heavily this season. Moreover, Ruben Loftus-Cheek will also be an option once he recovers from his injury completely. Signing Coutinho would harm the progress of the academy duo.

And with the Blues having already signed Hakim Ziyech, who also plays in a similar position, one wonders if they really need Coutinho. While he can offer depth in the squad and can play on the left-wing as well, spending a massive fee for a player who might not be a first-team regular seems like folly.

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Does Chelsea need Coutinho? 

No. There are enough options already at Lampard’s disposal for the position.

Will Coutinho benefit from signing for the club? 

Unlikely, given that he will not be guaranteed a first-team place by any stretch of the imagination.

Manchester United

Another Premier League giant linked with a move for Philippe Coutinho in the media, Manchester United, much like Chelsea, have the financial means to match Barcelona’s transfer fee demands. But once again the question is; does Ole Gunnar Solskjaer really need the Brazilian?

He would have been a good addition last summer, but following the arrival of Bruno Fernandes in the January transfer window, Manchester United’s creativity issues have been addressed to a large extent. With the Portuguese, Juan Mata and Paul Pogba within the ranks, another creative midfielder is hardly the need of the hour for the club.

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Instead, there are more pressing concerns such as a new right-sided winger and a long-term successor for Nemanja Matic in the defensive midfield role. Furthermore, Coutinho’s past with Manchester United’s bitter most rivals Liverpool complicates the matter further.

Does the club need Coutinho?

No. There are other positions that need to be strengthened at the moment.

Will Coutinho benefit from signing for the club?

Unlikely. He will by no means be a regular starter at Old Trafford. Plus, the Manchester United-Liverpool rivalry would mean Coutinho would be under the scanner constantly, which will put him under immense pressure.

Tottenham Hotspur

A team that is in need of some restructuring as Jose Mourinho looks to usher in a trophy-laden era, Coutinho has been linked with a move to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the summer transfer window. Having risen to great heights under Mauricio Pochettino, Spurs fell hard this season and find themselves staring at the prospect of missing out on European football.

Having allowed Christian Eriksen to leave for Inter in January, Tottenham lost their best creative player. Giovani Lo Celso has impressed in his debut campaign, but the club still lacks creativity and goals from midfield, especially with Dele Alli enduring a stop-start season and Tanguy Ndombele underwhelming completely after his club-record transfer last summer.

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This is something that they can address by signing Coutinho from Barcelona. The 27-year-old is well-versed with the rigours of the Premier League football and has the quality to push Lo Celso for the starting berth, which in turn should add further depth and healthy competition in the squad.

But will Daniel Levy meet Barcelona’s transfer fee demands? That is the big question. If not, a loan deal could also be worked out.

Do they need Coutinho?

Yes. Selling Eriksen has left a void in the side and while Lo Celso is a capable enough option, having another quality operator to support and compete with him would be a smart move for Tottenham.

Will Coutinho benefit from signing for the club?

Yes. Mourinho’s penchant to work with Brazilian players is well-known. Plus, Tottenham are in need of a creative force and given the lack of depth, he should see chances come more regularly than at Chelsea or Manchester United.

Newcastle United

The latest and the most surprising entrant in the race to sign Coutinho, Newcastle United are set to be backed by their new owners and are already chalking out ambitious plans for the future. Mauricio Pochettino has been tipped to take over the project at the St. James’ Park, and there will also be significant investment in the squad, much like Chelsea and Manchester City did post their takeovers in the past.

At this moment, Newcastle do not possess any world-class players within their ranks. The likes of Miguel Almiron, Allan Saint-Maximin have fared decently, but the Magpies lack that star element that would allow them to push the barriers. And signing Coutinho would provide them with just that. 

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Moreover, Coutinho is unlikely to have a lot of competition for a starting berth at the St. James’ Park either. He could be the man entrusted with the responsibility of leading this side into a new era. Such trust should boost his confidence immensely, which could, in turn, help him rediscover his best form as well.

Any potential deal though hinges on the takeover going through. If that falls through, there is little chance that Newcastle would be able to afford a player of Coutinho’s quality.

Do the Magpies need Coutinho?

Yes. Set to begin a new era under new ownership and most likely a new manager as well, Newcastle need a superstar addition to their squad. Coutinho, in that regard, would be ideal, given his star quality and proven pedigree in the Premier League.

Will Coutinho benefit from signing for the club?

Yes. Unlike other clubs on the list, Coutinho will be an undisputed starter at Newcastle and will enjoy the backing of some of the most passionate fans in England, which could be a huge boost for his confidence.

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Christof Stache