Noel Whelan has backed Philippe Coutinho to ease seamlessly into the Arsenal first-team if the Gunners sign him from Barcelona.
In an interview with Football Insider, Noel Whelan has had his say on the recent speculation linking Philippe Coutinho with a move to Arsenal. The former Leeds United attacker has claimed that the Barcelona outcast would slot straight into the Gunners’ first team if the transfer is completed.
Philippe Coutinho has endured a horrific stint with Barcelona since arriving from Liverpool in a big-money deal in January 2018. While the Brazilian playmaker enjoyed a solid start to his spell with the Blaugrana, playing out an impressive second half of the 2018/19 season, his stock has plummeted since then.
Coutinho was given a second chance to make his mark upon returning from his season-long loan spell at Bayern Munich in 2020. However, the 29-year-old has failed to impress in the last 18 months, and in the ongoing campaign, he has featured in just 608 minutes, producing a paltry tally of two goals in 16 appearances.
However, despite being extremely inconsistent at Barcelona, some of the most well-known clubs in Europe are showing an interest in signing him, with Arsenal being one of his prospective suitors. And now, Noel Whelan has backed the Gunners to sign the Barcelona outcast.
“He’s been off the radar for quite a while now. He was signed by Barcelona for a hell of a lot of money. It didn’t work out for him there. Then he goes to Bayern Munich and it doesn’t work out there for him either. It seems like he’s kind of lost his way a little bit and that bit of desire he had when he was at Liverpool.”
“But there’s no doubt that he’s still at a very good, young age with the experience behind him. I think a player like that would fit straight into an Arsenal style of play and slot straight into their team. There’s no doubt about it. It’s whether you can get the best out of him. Is that fitness level and that sharpness still there in his game?”
“If it’s not, then there’s no point going out there and spending that kind of money on bringing a loan player in of that stature. You might have people in the youth side that could probably, maybe, give you a bit better. When it comes to experience and learning off players like that, you can only learn off them if they come with the right attitude. He has to show them the same amount of quality he did when he was at Liverpool.”
Recent reports have claimed that Coutinho would prefer joining Arsenal, and the ball is now in the north Londoners’ court. It remains to be seen if the Gunners will produce a bid that is attractive enough to convince Barcelona to get the Brazilian playmaker off their books finally.