Barcelona manager confirms Philippe Coutinho stay

Philippe Coutinho of FC Barcelona. (Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Philippe Coutinho of FC Barcelona. (Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

Philippe Coutinho is set to stay at Barcelona as manager Ronald Koeman said he counts on the Brazilian midfielder.

The Dutchman gave his usual press conference ahead of the match against Athletic Bilbao where he was asked about the future of a number of players. He revealed Coutinho is staying and will play a role once he is healthy.

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"“Philippe is out [of the squad list] because I think he needs one more week training with the group before he can be called up.“Yes, I count on him because he is a great player. He can be important for Barça. He started out playing last year and then he had an injury. Really, I count on Coutinho for this season.”Source: Mundo Deportivo"

The Barcelona manager confirms Philippe Coutinho is set to stay

His lack of rhythm explains why he has yet to make a squad list despite being given the medical green light prior to the Joan Gamper match against Juventus.

Koeman also highlighted Coutinho’s ability to play in different positions. He can play on the left, though he has struggled there, or centrally as he did in the early days of Koeman’s tenure.

Coutinho is now on his third chance at Barcelona as the plan at the end of the season was to offload him either permanently or on loan. However, no other side was willing to take him on due to his wages.

Speaking of wages, according to Sport, once the club has finalized an agreement with the remaining club captains on their wage decrease, they are set for talks with Coutinho and Antoine Griezmann to do the same. The Frenchman seems willing to follow the example of Gerard Piqué though whether Coutinho is as open remains to be seen.

While Koeman has given Coutinho a confidence boost by publicly stating he counts and him and how he can be important to his team, the reality is the Catalans found themselves stuck with him.

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As for when he should be available, if he does need one more week of training, the match against Getafe might be when he makes his debut. A scenario that is highly likely considering Pedri is set to sit out and get some rest. It was the 18-year-old who managed to pull ahead of Coutinho for a starting spot in midfield last season.