It was a low-key start for Philippe Coutinho, on his home debut for Bayern Munich against Mainz last weekend.
The Brazilian has plenty to prove following a frustrating stint in Barcelona, where he ultimately failed to live up to the staggering £125 million move from Liverpool. It’s been no secret that Countinho had been openly looking for a way out of the Nou Camp after a frustrating season, and the signing of Antoine Griezmann further blocking his route to the first team.
PSG had been mooted as a possible destination in a deal which could have seen Neymar return to Barcelona. However, the hierarchy at Bayern Munich moved quickly to secure a loan with an option to buy the Brazilian.
Last weekend’s home debut against Mainz, Coutinho made his first start in the side and certainly showed early promise, all be it against weakened opposition. For Georg Holzner, Bayern Munich correspondent at Kicker it’s clear that the playmaker will have to adapt to the demands of the Bundesliga.
“The game against Mainz he (Coutinho) was not 100% fit, physically he has to do some work, and the staff and team know that.”
Part of the reasoning from Bayern to bring in Coutinho was not only for the qualities on the pitch. A host of star players left Munich in the summer, including the legendary duo of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery and Holzber believes the star power of the samba star was decisive in the move.
“Three big names who left FC Bayern in the summer so the bosses knew that they had to take big names to Munich. They needed it for the fans, they needed it for the team. They needed this one big-name everyone was looking at. That is why it is very important that Coutinho is in Munich.”
It’s undeniable that Coutinho has the quality and temperament to be a world-class player, the move to Bayern could be exactly what the 27-year old needs to restart his career. Although FCB coach Robert Kovac may have to switch around his tactics to facilitate Coutinho. “If the coach can manage it then I think Coutinho can be that player Bayern is hoping they will get.”
Bayern will be battling it out with Borrusia Dortmund domestically and be looking to win an eighth consecutive Bundesliga crown. However, a club with the size and ambition of FCB the Champions League will always remain the primary objective. Georg Holzner believes that if Coutinho can quickly settle into his central role in the side, then a semi-final place is possible.
“Can FCB win the Champions League? It’s difficult to say, it depends on Coutinho and if he will be that man. If Bayern gets the world-class player that played for Liverpool then Bayern Munich gets a, really high-quality player with a high soccer IQ.”
“If Coutinho can be that man, then Bayern can make the quarter-finals maybe semi-finals and the quality in the team is enough to win the trophy I’m not sure.”
Attention will soon shift to the Bundesliga weekend where Bayern will take on league leaders RB Leipzig in an early top of the table clash. One thing is for certain, fans of FCB will be hoping their new number 10 can pull the strings in midfield for their side.