Barcelona favourite Rivaldo has backed Philippe Coutinho to complete a future move to the Nou Camp. The talented Liverpool playmaker recently returned from a near two-month absence caused by ankle ligament damage, making back-to-back substitute appearances against Southampton and Manchester United before teeing up Lucas Leiva to score a first-half winner on his first start for seven weeks in Wednesday night’s (18 January) FA Cup third-round replay win over Plymouth Argyle.
Coutinho has played a pivotal role in Premier League top scorers’s Liverpool’s impressive ascent to title contention, with Barcelona routinely mentioned as keen admirers and potential transfer suitors. Indeed, The Mirror credited Blaugrana with a £60m ($73.9m) interest as recently as this month and Brazilian Rivaldo, who won two La Liga titles during a memorable five-year stint in Catalonia that showcased the very best of his sublime talent, clearly believes his compatriot would be an ideal fit to provide yet another injection of quality into a blistering attack comprising the famous ‘MSN’ trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.
Speaking to Sky Sports, he said: “In my opinion, he’s a great player and a player who knows Neymar well. I think they are both friends – players who stand out. I think that this transfer might happen because Barcelona is always going to attract the best, isn’t it?
“He is one of the players who stands out and I believe that this transfer — if he goes to Barcelona — would be a good thing for Barcelona for sure. He is a player who would definitely help Barcelona. Of course, Barcelona is a big club, but with a player like him, it would definitely be a big help.”
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has been understandably eager to ward off any potential interest in Coutinho, who has scored six goals and provided seven assists in 17 total appearances so far this season.
“We never had any ideas or plans or any talks about him leaving, because he is our player,” he said prior to the 24-year-old’s eagerly-anticipated return in the narrow EFL Cup semi-final first-leg defeat at St Mary’s. “There are no other ideas, nothing has changed.
“It would be nice if big clubs thought like this and forgot about a player completely because he’s been injured for five or six weeks. Big clubs don’t think this way, unfortunately. It was not a big injury so there was no question of him not being the same player afterwards.”