Barcelona boss Xavi Hernandez has, on Friday, spoken out over his plans for struggling midfielder Philippe Coutinho.
Brazilian international Coutinho is of course just one of a host of fringe stars at the Camp Nou who will be desperate to catch the eye of his new manager over the weeks ahead.
The 29-year-old has endured an altogether underwhelming spell in Blaugrana colours since swapping Merseyside for Catalunya back in 2018, struggling from both a physical and technical standpoint.
The early months of the campaign, under Ronald Koeman, saw Coutinho manage a flurry of appearances, including a quartet of La Liga starts.
However, across 11 total appearances, the ex-Liverpool standout managed just a solitary goal contribution, aptly summing up just how far he has truly fallen over the last couple of seasons.
‘Help us a lot’
In turn, ahead of his first outing since securing a long-awaited Camp Nou return, incoming boss Xavi, earlier today, was unsurprisingly drawn on his plans for Coutinho moving forward.
Some had gone as far as to suggest of late that the latest instillation on the Barcelona bench could simply bide his time, before ushering Coutinho back out the exit door in the Catalan capital, whether on a loan or a permanent basis, in January.
If his latest comments are anything to go by, though, then Xavi appears to have much grander plans for the midfield enigma.
Speaking in a press conference ahead of his side’s derby showdown with Espanyol on Saturday, Xavi assured that Coutinho could yet have a significant role to play under his watch:
‘Coutinho is someone who can play in various positions and he can be important for the team.’
‘He needs to re-find himself and recover his confidence. If he does, he will help us a lot. He has an innate talent.’
‘Xavi said it is now up to Coutinho, who recently made his 100th appearance for Barca, to deliver, suggesting his problems are more mental than physical.’
The Spanish tactician continued:
‘It depends on him. He will get chances because he’s a player I like personally. It’s more psychological than anything because he has talent.’
Xavi obviously going to say all players start from scratch with him but his appraisal of Coutinho seemed genuine today. Says problem most likely psychological because he has the talent to be an important player at Barça https://t.co/y2f5DG3VQO
— Samuel Marsden (@samuelmarsden) November 19, 2021
This article was edited by Ben Browning.