- Balague picks faults out in Coutinho’s display for Barcelona
- Catalan giants were held to draw by Espanyol with Messi starting on bench
- Brazilian still seemingly settling at Nou Camp, much more to come
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The pressure is bound to be on Philippe Coutinho after his big-money move to Barcelona last month, and Guillem Balague has picked out key issues so far.
As per BBC Sport, the Brazilian playmaker completed a £142m move to join the Catalan giants in the January transfer window, as he ultimately looks set to become the long-term creative spark in midfield.
In four appearances for Barca, he hasn’t been able to register a single goal or assist, although naturally there is a period for all players moving elsewhere to adapt and settle in.
Nevertheless, Balague wants to see more from the 25-year-old, especially when Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde needed him in the draw with Espanyol at the weekend with Lionel Messi given a rare rest as he started the game on the bench.
“Philippe Coutinho was trying to fill that gap playing on the left and drifting inside the play in the pocket and in between the lines, but he did not create enough,” he told Sky Sports. “He needs to be faster with his reactions and braver on the ball.”
Given the style of play at the Nou Camp and the lofty expectations and demands of the players, Coutinho is understandably not quite there yet.
However, given the technical quality, vision and creative class that he possesses, as we saw him display on countless occasions in England, perhaps it’s more a confidence issue as he hasn’t yet entirely settled into the side and is therefore still a little reserved when in possession.
With more time on the pitch, Valverde will undoubtedly expect that to change and get more from the former Liverpool man, but Balague makes a fair point at this early stage in that there is still plenty to improve on for Coutinho in a Barcelona shirt and we’re not quite seeing it all as of yet.