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6 reasons why Philippe Coutinho is the perfect fit for Barcelona

There are exactly 85 days for the transfer window to reopen, and Barcelona would rather see it open now than wait for about three months to drastically react to their wayward start to the new season. With last weekend’s loss to Sevilla their second in three league games, the shipwreck many feared for the Catalans is closer to reality than dreams.

It isn’t that the January transfer window is a guaranteed fix to the current problems at the club, which run deep as proved by the recent defensive meltdowns considering the fact the Blaugrana kept 33 clean sheets in their 60 games only last season. But at least it provides the club with more options to correct their mistakes and strengthen their squad, which at the moment can be compared to an amateur team struggling to find players to complete the eleven.

The most talked-about transfer target is Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho. The Brazilian, 23, has been one of the top performers in the last 18 months for the English club, and has also been on Barca’s radar ever since he started pulling trees. Given their penchant for buying quality South Americans, Barca’s interest in Coutinho should never come as a surprise.

Here are five reasons why Coutinho would be the perfect fit for Barcelona:

1. A talented player with unlimited potential

Although Coutinho made his Brazil debut in 2010 while being at Inter Milan as a slight 18-year-old, he really, truly broke into the Canarinha’s ranks in 2014 following Brazil’s disastrous World Cup campaign, after playing a key role in Liverpool’s unlikely but ultimately doomed surge to the Premier League title led by current Barca striker Luis Suarez in the 2013/14 season.

The Rio-born playmaker is one of the most exciting talents in the Premier League, and Barca having their way in attracting players to Spain from England is not new. With the cream of South American football (MSN, Dani Alves, Mascherano) currently at the club, it will be a tough call for Coutinho to say no to Barca’s advances should the club make their intentions clear.

2. Liverpool currently in turmoil

There has been a new development in Liverpool which will clearly raise the spirits among the Cules, as the English club have parted ways with manager Brendan Rodgers, who was the man to bring Coutinho to England and is greatly credited for his remarkable rise. With Liverpool managerless and in limbo, Coutinho could be forgiven for thinking about switching allegiances given how Liverpool and their fans adore the player.

Rodgers’ sacking has provided Coutinho with an easy ticket to leave the club, but whether the player himself wants a move is the bigger question. Brazil captain and Barca star Neymar has openly expressed his admiration for his compatriot, while Blaugrana great Ronaldinho — one of Coutinho’s inspirations — also talked up the inevitability of the midfielder’s move to Catalonia earlier this summer.

While all these bigging up generally fall under the category of newspaper transfer fodder until the player himself openly expresses his desire and wants away, Coutinho’s commitment to Liverpool is normal given he is contracted to the club, and knowing the state of the two clubs, he doesn’t need to go out of the way to force a transfer.

3. Personal connection with Neymar

His response to Neymar’s claims that he would fit in well at Barca oozed typical calmness, much like what he does with the ball at his feet: “I have not seen Neymar’s quotes. I am good friends with him, but it’s not the moment to talk about Barça's interest. I’m focused on having a good season with Liverpool and that is all that interests me,” he said, when quizzed about his Barca ambitions in the past.

4. Available for the Champions League knock-out stages

Another incentive for Barca to go all out after Coutinho in January is that unlike most big name players, the Brazilian will not be cup-tied for the later stages of the Champions League, a massive plus given how the competition takes a completely different turn after the new year, as the matches become more intense with each passing round.

With their squad stretched to the limits and the small matter of traveling to Japan for the Club World Cup in December still to take care of, Barcelona will hopefully not find themselves out of their depth and remain at least in contention in all competitions, until the new year. While that will take a lot away from the current squad members, it will be a tall order to expect them to maintain performance standards for the entire season.

This can be argued in Coutinho’s case as well, and he has already suffered an injury this season, but the natural lift a new signing brings is an entirely different prospect than expecting a player who has played two games in four days to turn up in his 100 percent for a crucial derby game three days later. The mere impetus a new signing provides will be vital for Barca heading into the business end of the season.

5. The natural replacement for Andres Iniesta

There have been suggestions aplenty that Coutinho is the most natural replacement there is for the colossal Iniesta, and while the idea is certainly over the top at the moment, the Brazilian has the potential to one day emulate Iniesta, given the eerily similar styles of both players. While there is still a long way to go for Coutinho to be as consistent as Iniesta, playing for Barca will certainly provide him with the tools to succeed which clearly isn’t the case at Liverpool.

6. Already experienced in La Liga

Another important factor to consider here is that Coutinho has already had a spell in Catalonia. While at Inter, he was farmed out on loan to Barca’s local rivals Espanyol for a season, where he gained valuable experience of the Spanish game before making the switch to Anfield. Coutinho played 16 times for Espanyol in the 2011/12 season and scored five goals, not bad for a teenager.

There are quite a few factors which clearly suggest why Coutinho could be a perfect fit at Barca. With sporting director Robert Fernandez and manager Luis Enrique already drawing up plans for the club’s January business, Coutinho must certainly be on the top of their wishlist.

While the player’s agent — who also represents players like Douglas Costa and Anthony Martial who recently secured moves to big clubs — having talked to Barca already, there is every reason to believe why it is only a matter of time before Coutinho becomes a Barca player.

By Abhijit Bharali, columnist at Barcablog. Follow him on Twitter here

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