Ernesto Valverde says Philippe Coutinho has been unlucky

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has indicated that Philippe Coutinho has been unlucky with the Catalan giants during the current campaign. The Brazil international has barely started a game for the Blaugrana since early December and this has recently raised the speculation regarding his future with the Spanish champions.

Speaking to reporters, Valverde admitted that Coutinho is going through a difficult phase with the Catalan giants and termed the situation as being ‘unlucky’. He added that both Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele remain vital figures to the team while not ruling out the possibility of the duo playing together more often.

He said:“Over the season the games come thick and fast and in some games you aren’t so lucky. Coutinho has played some great games with us and we hope he will continue to do so. I look more at what he does well, the same with Dembele or Arturo Vidal. It was a tough match the other day in which we lost, sure, but has to help us take a step forward.He and Dembele can play together, it is a possibility. I try to play with balance. If I go through the games they played together, they did it in Milan or against PSV.”

Coutinho joined the Spanish champions from Liverpool during the midway stage of the previous campaign and contributed eight goals and five assists through the La Liga season. However, he has not been able to replicate the same success during the current campaign where he has accumulated just five goals and four assists across all competitions.

Based on this, it appears viable for Valverde to feature Dembele ahead of him for the starting duties but that could change in the forthcoming weeks, should Coutinho find the consistency exhibited during the backend of the previous season. Barcelona are scheduled to face Eibar at the Camp Nou for the weekend’s league game.