A Year Later, Coutinho Unable to Show His Worth at Barcelona

first_imgMADRID (AP) — More than a year after arriving as one of Barcelona’s most expensive signings, Philippe Coutinho is still struggling to play up to expectations.The Brazil midfielder hasn’t been able to show the type of playmaking ability that made him a star at Liverpool and prompted the Spanish club to sign him in a transfer that could reach 160 million euros ($180 million).“He cost a lot of money, obviously, so the expectations are very high,” veteran Barcelona defender Gerard Pique said. “It’s just the way it is. You have to accept the criticism from the fans. But as teammates we will continue to give him all the support in the world. We need him to be at his best for the rest of the season, and I’m confident that he will be.”Coutinho’s struggles have been so evident that there’s even talk about him possibly returning to the Premier League in the near future.The 26-year-old Brazilian has scored only three goals since November, all coming in the Copa del Rey. His last league goal came in October in the team’s 5-1 rout of Real Madrid at the Camp Nou.He was jeered by many of the Barcelona fans at the Camp Nou on Saturday when he was substituted by Ivan Rakitic late in the team’s 3-1 win over Rayo Vallecano in the Spanish league.It was another poor performance by the player Barcelona hoped could help make up for the departure of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017.Ousmane Dembele, another expensive signing by the Catalan club following Neymar’s transfer, has been taking more advantage of his opportunities and has become a regular starter in the attack along with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.Coutinho, meanwhile, remains mostly on the sidelines despite at times showing flashes of his world-class talent. Many expected the Brazil international to play a bigger part in midfield when Andres Iniesta left at the end of last season, but Coutinho remained relegated to a secondary role, making the lineup mostly in Copa del Rey matches.“He is going through a phase that we’ve all gone through before,” Barcelona right back Nelson Semedo said. “He is giving his best and we will keep helping him.”Coutinho wasn’t able to establish himself as a key piece for coach Ernesto Valverde even when Messi was out for several weeks because of a broken arm.“We are in a club where the demands are very high,” Valverde said. “But you don’t have to pay too much attention to it. Coutinho is always fighting. You can see how he has been working hard. The secret is to try to persevere.”By: Tales Azzoni, AP Sports WriterTweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more

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Juventus took a gamble by signing Ronaldo: Napoli president De Laurentiis

first_imgWhile Italian giants Juventus hope to achieve greater heights with the signing of five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, their rival Napoli’s president Aurelio De Laurentiis feels they have made a mistake by signing the veteran striker.Juventus paid 12 million euros ($131.4 million) to Real Madrid to acquire the services of the 33-year-old.Ronaldo has signed a four-year contract with the record Italian football champions and will reportedly earn a net salary of 31 million euros ($36.38 million) per season.”Spending so much money for a player at the end of his career is dangerous,” De Laurentiis was quoted as saying by Mediaset’s Canale 5 on Monday.”Let’s not forget, (Ronaldo) has a certain age and in terms of the club’s balance sheet, they have taken a gamble,” he added.To date, Ronaldo has won in total five league titles, five domestic cups, five Champions Leagues, four Club World Cups, two European Super Cups, two domestic Supercups.Napoli were first offered the chance to sign Portugal star Ronaldo but De Laurentiis said the accounting did not make sense for his club.”Let’s see if in the end, the commercial success of the group will be greater than their sporting success,” he said.In the 2017-18 Serie A season, Napoli came closest to topple Juventus but the Turin powerhouse managed to win the league title for the record seventh consecutive time.And Ronaldo’s move is expected to be a major boost for Juventus, who have dominated the Italian league in recent years. They have also reached the Champions League final twice in the last four years, finishing runners-up on both occasions.advertisement(With IANS inputs)last_img read more

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