Bayern Munich has officially signed Philippe Coutinho from Barcelona and Mickaël Cuisance from Borussia Monchengladbach. Coutinho joins Bayern on a one-year loan for approximately €20 with an option to buy at the end of the loan for €120m. Cuisance joins from Monchengladbach for€ 10m. Both moves are subject to a medical being completed.
While neither player might not have been anywhere on Bayern’s radar heading into the transfer window, the circumstances surrounding Leroy Sane’s prospective move from Manchester City have severely complicated things. Both Coutiho and Cuisance are considered “plan b” signings, but are they both solid plan b’s? They’re the latest in a list of signings made in 2019, joining Lucas Hernandez, Benjamin Pavard, and Fiete Arp.
Here’s what some of us here at BFW think:
For what it’s worth, I think Coutinho is a solid, smart buy considering the circumstances of the Leroy Sane saga and Neymar’s impending return to Barcelona. A lot of BFW readers will know that I’m also a massive Liverpool supporter. Jurgen Klopp really used Coutinho’s versatility during the Brazilian's time with the six-time European champions (feels SO good to say that!). Coutinho played as a center attacking mid, wide attacking mid, and even a central midfield player in Klopp’s preferred 4-3-3 formation, especially during the end of the 2016/2017 season when Liverpool made their top-four push.
Coutinho’s creative ability to unlock attacking sequences with his passing and movement on the ball can significantly help Bayern, especially in the matches where our opposition really bunkers down defensively against us. For us, he could play either as a wide attacking midfielder or more retreated as a part of a dual or triple pivot in the center of the park alongside Thiago, Corentin Tolisso, Leon Goretzka, and/or Javi Martinez. I think for what it’s worth, he’s a great circumstantial signing for us.
To be quite honest, I don’t know too much about Cuisance, but I think Bayern were well and truly looking for another central midfielder, and they’ve found one. The 20-year old spent two seasons with ‘Gladbach and was quite often deputized as a holding, defensive midfielder, which is something Bayern definitely needed. In a recent press conference, Niko Kovac said that Bayern needed a “modern number 6” and I think they’ve now got one with Cuisance. He’s young, and perhaps a bit inexperienced, but I think he’ll integrate into the squad quickly and can be effective in that holding role when Kovac uses him there.
Coutinho, in my opinion, will prove to be a great addition to Bayern. After all, this is not a question of ability or talent. As long as he’s being utilized correctly, Bayern should be able to get the best of what he has to offer as a player. Cuisance is an exciting young central midfielder with loads of potential and technical ability. Bayern might not be the best place for him to develop as a player though (see: Renato Sanches and the central midfield logjam).
So, all things given, I actually really like the Coutinho move. Now, hear me out. I get it, we all expected Leroy Sané, myself included. But after Pep Guardiola and Manchester City acted extremely poorly in their negotiations, Sané ended up with a torn ACL and extended time on the sidelines, and FC Bayern ended up without their primary target after a months-long saga.
That said, Philippe Coutinho is one hell of a plan B. While he won’t be playing as a central attacking mid and rather as a winger (as I expect), I believe he will be extremely productive not only in the Bundesliga but also in the Champions League. Why do I think that? Well, he brings a certain “X-factor” that Bayern seems to be lacking at times — that killer instinct and eye for scoring goals. At the reported price of €15-€20m for a year-long loan, that’s a great buy. While the rumored option to buy is in the ballpark of €120m, unless something goes terribly south with Sané and Havertz and/Coutinho absolutely goes torrid, I don’t see FC Bayern buying him. Expect Coutinho to start on the bench but eventually earn a starter’s role as a winger/outside-mid hybrid.
As for Cusiance, the interesting part is seeing him fall out of grace at Borussia Mönchengladbach only to transfer to Bayern. I truthfully have a feeling he will be loaned out and that would be for his own good. Barring major injuries, the midfield is too crowded for a young player who needs minutes to develop to get meaningful minutes at Bayern. If he’s not loaned out, I feel that he’s destined for the bench much like Alphonso Davies and Renato Sanches.
All and all I’m excited about one and underwhelmed by the other transfer, but at this stage of the transfer window I can’t complain.
Neither of them are the transfers we wanted, but Bayern has run out of viable options that it can still afford. Coutinho is a high-quality stopgap for a year. He’s a right-footed left winger who can also play as a central attacking midfielder. If the plan is to have him at the ready when Coman goes down, I think it is a good move. Coutinho should be a vast improvement over what Franck Ribery could still offer in the past year or two. He might even push Coman to the bench.
I don’t see Coutinho as coming to play central midfield (and threaten, say, Müller as many fear). The club already made it clear it doesn’t need another such player after letting James go. They need wingers, and on the left wing is where I presume Coutinho will play.
Cuisance is admittedly a little underwhelming, having fallen out of grace at Borussia Mönchengladbach. But he still has great potential and is very inexpensive. The club probably sees him as a good third option at the 6 behind Thiago and Javi Martinez.