Why Arsenal should be doing all they can to sign Philippe Coutinho
By James Whiffing
in January 2018, Philippe Coutinho made a staggering £130 million transfer from Liverpool to Barcelona, with the expectation and standards set high for the Brazilian. However, it is safe to say that the former Liverpool man has failed to live up to his hefty price tag, with the 28-year-old scoring just 21 and assisting 11 in 76 appearances for the Catalan giants.
After enduring a difficult start to life in Spain, Coutinho was loaned out to Bayern Munich. Here, he regained his form, scoring 9 and assisting 8 to help his loan side to retain the Bundesliga title. Now that Coutinho has returned from his loan spell in Germany, Arsenal should be looking to secure a loan deal for the Brazilian, and here’s why.
Firstly, it is a well-known fact that Arsenal lack creativity and a cutting edge in attack-Coutinho would help with this. The 28-year-old would most likely play as an attacking midfielder behind our front three of Aubameyang, Lacazette and Pepe. Since a crucial component of such a role would be to create chances, it seems fair to compare him to Arsenal’s current midfielders. Coutinho has registered 0.51 xG/90 and 0.23 xA/90 in the league this season which is significantly higher than any Arsenal midfielder. To provide some context to these numbers, Mesut Özil, who Coutinho would be coming in to replace, has recorded an xG/90 of 0.09 and an xA/90 of 0.14. Mind you, we must remember that Coutinho has operated in a dominant team this year, therefore, his numbers will naturally be higher than Arsenal's current creative options.
Still, no other Arsenal midfielder has registered anywhere near as impressive stats as Coutinho over the course of the 19/20 season. The large difference in stats shows that there is an obvious lack of goals and creativity within Gunners' midfield. Coutinho could solve this problem for Arsenal. It also shows that the Gunners are too heavily reliant on their dynamic front three of Aubameyang, Lacazette and Pepe, who have scored a staggering 37 of Arsenal’s 56 league goals this season. We are crying out for a creative goal scoring midfielder like Coutinho.
It is also worth mentioning that Arsenal are ranked 13th out of the Premier League teams for ‘big chances created’ and 16th for shots taken over the season. Even Norwich have taken more shots than Mikel Arteta’s men. Coutinho would help the Gunners to create more chances and have more shots. This season, the Brazilian averaged 3.4 shots per 90 in the Bundesliga this season; this stat shows that he would have the potential to increase our ranking for shots taken and also gives us another option to score goals. After all, Coutinho is known for his long range shots, usually cutting in from the left hand side and bending a shot into the far corner. His goal against Manchester City at Anfield in 2015 springs to mind.
Another asset which the former Liverpool man can bring to this Arsenal team is his dynamism. Coutinho averages 3.34 pressure regains per 90 and 2.79 turnovers per 90 for Bayern Munich. This is a clear portrayal that the Brazilian is always pressing the opposition and is looking to win possession back for his team. The 28-year-old also boasts a 59% dribble success rate with 2.73 successful dribbles per 90. Although the dribble success rate seems low, it shows that Coutinho is always willing to drive at players with the ball, and has a fearlessness when dribbling at opposition players. He isn’t afraid to lose the ball and takes risks when in possession. Something which has been missing from Mesut Özil's game for a while now.
On top of that, the Barcelona man wins 1.82 fouls per 90, which again highlights his ability to attract defenders. In consequence, space is opened up which gives him opportunities to create as the goal getters in front of him can run into the space which the defenders move out of to close down Coutinho.
The midfielder also boasts a pass accuracy percentage of 84%. Although this isn’t perfect, it is very impressive for an attacking midfielder/left winger who is always looking to thread forward passes to his teammates instead of passing sideways or backwards. The ability to retain the ball in offensive areas is crucial for a team who likes to build up play patiently which is likely to be part of Mikel Arteta's vision for his Arsenal team.
Another valuable strength that Coutinho brings is his versatility. Arsenal are already blessed with several versatile players. The likes of Aubameyang, Saka and Maitland Niles are all players that can play numerous different roles. Coutinho would add to that list, with the Brazilian capable of playing on the left flank, or as an attacking midfielder. With reluctance, he could also provide cover on the right flank or even in a deeper midfield role. This means that if an attacking or midfield player were to get injured, then he could easily slot in for them, or suit a slightly different position if Arteta decides to change formation at any point.
At the time of writing this article, RAC1 (a reliable source when it comes to Barcelona news) reported that Arsenal are in negotiations with Barca over a loan deal for Coutinho. Reports suggest the astronomical weekly wages will be shared by both clubs, with an additional loan fee costing up to £10 million. Also, numerous reports are insinuating that Arsenal have been offered a chance to sign Coutinho for £9 million, plus Matteo Guendouzi. If the Frenchman isn’t going to play again due to his falling out with head coach Mikel Arteta, then it would be sensible to construct a swap deal if the Catalan side are interested Guendouzi.
The former Liverpool man would be a great addition to the current Arsenal squad. The goals and assists he would look to provide could turn out to be incredibly important to Mikel Arteta next season. Now, we just need Raul Sanlehi to use his negotiating magic to get this one over the line.