There was much speculation heading into the ongoing summer transfer window on whether Philippe Coutinho would remain with Barcelona.
After an underwhelming couple of seasons with Barca following his 2018 winter transfer move from Liverpool, Coutinho has been heavily linked with a move away from the Catalan giants.
One recent report noted that Barca has been looking for a suitor to take him on a loan deal and to top it all off, club officials would be open to paying half his salary for this season to facilitate such a move.
With Coutinho still on the roster due to Barca’s inability to find a taker for him, manager Ronald Koeman is now counting on the veteran midfielder this season.
In speaking at a press conference ahead of Barca’s upcoming away La Liga clash against Athletic Bilbao, Koeman touched on plans for Coutinho this season.
“I count on him,” Koeman said. “For me, Coutinho can be an important player for Barca. He played games at the start of last year and then got injured. And yes, I truly count on him for this season.
“He’s an important player, he’s effective in his game. He can play in various positions. We need people like him. With Messi, we lost a lot of goals and we have to look for goals from the other players.”
The Barca manager also revealed why the Brazilian will not feature in the team’s upcoming league fixture against Bilbao, which comes after the midfielder missed the La Liga opener against Real Sociedad.
“Philippe is out because I think that he needs another week to train with the group before being called up,” Koeman said.
Coutinho is coming off a season where he missed the latter half of the campaign due to a knee injury. He wound up being left off of Brazil’s final squad list for the 2021 Copa America tournament as a result of the injury.
As Koeman mentioned, Barcelona will need several players to step up and help replace Lionel Messi’s staggering goal production. The club sure would like to see a vintage season from Coutinho to help the team achieve this feat.