In a recent interview with SportBild, ex-Bayern Munich defender Rafinha said he feels that the Bavarians should permanently sign Philippe Coutinho. While Rafinha may be regarded highly by Bayern’s fans, his opinion will surely be met with a great deal of criticism as Coutinho’s buyout option would likely cost Bayern around €120 million.
Coutinho has shown flashes of brilliance this season, but consistency in his performances isn’t something he’s been able to find. A few weeks ago, even Karl-Heinz Rummenigge admitted he couldn’t exactly put his finger on why Coutinho has been struggling. Still, though, Rafinha is confident that he’s a player that Bayern should keep around:
Philippe is a super player. I hope that Bayern signs him after the season. Bayern needs a Brazilian on the team! He’s a world-class player who can make the difference. It’s normal that he has had difficulties in the beginning in his new home. I hope that he can still show his real level.
Of course, the tactical changes Hansi Flick has made in response to the injury to Robert Lewandowski have given Coutinho more minutes in recent weeks. He started and played the full 90 minutes in Bayern’s last two matches, against Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga and then Schalke in the DFB-Pokal. Coutinho very easily could have left Sinsheim with a hat-trick to his name, but came away from the Rhein-Neckar-Arena with a well-deserved brace. Lewandowski’s injury layover will be an integral stretch for Coutinho, but he still could be relegated back to the bench once the Polish international returns along with Kingsley Coman.
Rafinha also aired a quarrel with former Bayern manager Niko Kovac. He revealed that he had an offer from Bayer Leverkusen prior to the 2018/2019 season and asked Kovac for permission to leave Bayern. Kovac refused, though, and told Rafinha he wanted him to stay, giving him the impression that he was a big part of his squad planning. That didn’t turn out to be the case when Rafinha got few opportunities to play under Kovac:
It was a difficult phase with Niko Kovac. Before the 2018/19 season, I asked him to be released because I had an offer from Bayer Leverkusen. He said, “No, please stay! I need you!” In the Rückrunde, though, I hardly got any minutes.
Rafinha went on to say that Kovac’s handling of certain players was equally poor, blaming him for the departure of several players:
I have respect for Kovac, but I’ll tell you: if his manner had been different, then we’d potentially all still be there: Arjen Robben, Franck Ribéry, James, Mats Hummels, Renato Sanches, Arturo Vidal, and me.