After picking up an injury in training that may see him sidelined for the next few months, Bayern Munich fans may have seen the last of Philippe Coutinho in a jersey in this shade of red.
Or have we?
After the Der Spiegel report this morning confirmed that Bayern Munich let the Brazilian midfielder’s purchase option expire, there still remains the question of whether Bayern will look to keep him on loan for another year or if he will return to his parent club at FC Barcelona.
In his interview with Der Spiegel (via fcbinside.de), Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge gave a rather cryptic response when it came to Coutinho’s future in Bavaria. He said, “The purchase option has expired and we didn’t exercise it. Now we first have to finish our roster planning internally and decide whether he will play a role with us or not.”
While Coutinho remains a divisive figure among the fans of FC Bayern Munich (including in this community), what cannot be denied is that Coutinho brings a certain quality to this team that cannot always be found in other German talents. In addition, I’d argue that Coutinho still may have more to offer to the team than meets the eye.
Let’s start with his statistics (via WhoScored). With only 15 appearances in the Bundesliga, his 8 goals and 6 assists is an excellent number for someone who “hasn’t contributed much.” For perspective, Coutinho is the team’s third-highest contributor for both categories.
It should also be noted that his lack of consistency at Bayern Munich isn’t something new for him when it comes to starting at a new club. In fact, throughout his career, Coutinho has consistently risen to the challenge of trying to excel at his new home.
Let’s start with his career at Liverpool, who he joined from Inter Milan in January of 2013. After contributing 3 goals and 1 assist with I Nerazzurri his first campaign on Merseyside saw him bag 3 goals and 7 assists, already an improvement.
His following years with Liverpool went as follows in all competitions:
- 2013/14: 5 goals / 8 assists in 37 games
- 2014/15: 8 goals / 6 assists in 52 games*
- 2015/16: 12 goals / 7 assists in 43 games*
- 2016/17: 14 goals / 9 assists in 36 games
- 2017/18 (half season): 12 goals / 8 assists in 20 games*
* - includes European competition
Following his January move to Catalonia, he bagged an additional 8 goals and 5 assists, which would bring his totals to 20g/13a for the entire season.
No one will deny that the 2018/19 season was a poor one for Coutinho. Across 54 games, he was able to get only 11 goals and 5 assists. However, unlike at Liverpool, where his position at Left Wing or at CAM was pretty set, he didn’t face a similar security at Barcelona and was played in various positions. His competition for these spots included Ousmane Dembele, Ivan Rakitic, Arthur, and Malcom and thus, a high rotation was put in place. Coutinho wasn’t ever likely to get settled, despite the amount of playing time.
So now, with his time at Bayern, it can make sense why someone could call his one year loan spell a failure because his scoring output was worse than last year. But I would argue, that in a system that’s new to him, with two different managers, that Coutinho hasn’t been able to settle into Bavaria in the best way he possibly could.
But it makes sense for him to come back to Bayern. If he’s given another year, he could prove to be a valuable member of the team now that he’s had a year in Germany under his belt. Hansi Flick has shown that he likes what Coutinho can bring. Publicly, the team seems to like him. Plus, in LATAM countries, Coutinho enjoys a popularity that is just slightly behind James Rodriguez.
Ultimately, all of this is speculation, and the multiple reports don’t offer us a clear picture on what may be in the heads of those on the board. But, I wouldn’t be surprised if the book on Coutinho’s career in Munich hasn’t closed yet.