ou’d be forgiven for thinking that Philippe Coutinho would take to Barcelona like a duck to water.
The diminutive Brazilian was signed for an eye-watering £142m back in January and is expected to be a huge star in La Liga.
But how, exactly, has he fared in first few weeks as a Barca player? Well, it’s not been an explosive start to life at Camp Nou – but he’s getting there.
The former Liverpool ace has made six appearances overall (three starts) and scored one goal in the Copa del Rey. He was substituted after 62 minutes in the 0-0 weekend draw with Getafe.
It’s clear he will be a superb fit for this Barcelona side. His technical skill and versatility suit the Catalan giants.
His ability to play at eight, ten, or wide on the left and right of a front three, is exactly why the club saw him as Andreas Iniesta’s long-term replacement.
However, it’s going to take time for the 25-year-old to learn that particular role. The Iniesta-Messi axis is a huge reason why Barca have been so successful over the years.
The La Masia youth products have a near-telepathic understanding of how to find one another. And that has come from years of playing together.
At Anfield, Coutinho essentially played the Messi role. He’d pop up all over the field, looking for one-touch combinations, frequently ending up with a strike on goal from the edge of the box.
At Barcelona, that’s Messi’s role. Iniesta is his facilitator – find, and feed Leo in transitions. Then move into space and be ready for lay-offs or being put through on goal.
It can be difficult to initially adjust to life at Camp Nou when you haven’t grown up through the system. Even Luis Suarez struggled initially after making the exact same move from Merseyside.
The Uruguayan took six games to find the net in blue and red and yet finished the season with 25 goals in all competitions.
Now, we’re not saying Coutinho is going to his similar heights from now until May. This is more of a transitional period in which he’ll be expected to learn the particular Barcelona movements.
Ernesto Valverde’s side have the league practically sewn up already and the Selecao star is ineligible for the Champions League.
So Coutinho will be given plenty time in La Liga to settle and adapt as ‘Don’ Iniesta is given UCL-precedence.
But it’s a fascinating period in his career and one which we’re sure he’ll eventually thrive in.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing