If we analyse some of the top teams in Europe, we can see Bayern Munich were among the less active ones in terms of transfer activity. The reigning Bundesliga champions barely added impact players to their squad ahead of the 2019-20 season.
That changed earlier this week, however, when Bayern secured a season-long loan move for Barcelona playmaker Philippe Coutinho. The former Liverpool star and current Brazil international didn’t have a good stint with Los Blaugranas, and now he will have a chance to get things back on track on German soil. However, there’s a huge question regarding Coutinho. Where does he play best?
Players like Coutinho can thrive on several scenarios and his versatility allows him to play at a high level on different positions. Coutinho can play as a winger, as a n.° 10, as a second striker and even as a “number eight” in a sort of central midfielder with a lot of freedom going forward. But if Bayern want to make the most out of him, then they need to play him where he can maximize his strengths and hide his weaknesses.
With that in mind, tt’s simple. To make the most out of a creative player like Coutinho, he needs to play in the role that fills him the most. And that’s the central attacking midfielder position.
Bayern have played Thomas Muller in that role of a second striker / attacking midfielder. But there’s no question Coutinho would represent an upgrade in that role. However, don’t rule out the possibility of Bayern putting him on a wider position. After all, Die Roten lost both Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben during the transfer period. They couldn’t sign Leroy Sane, either. Right now, their best wingers are Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry. Coutinho represents an upgrade over both players at the position as well.
However, there are roughly two weeks left in the transfer window. That’s plenty of time to find another winger who can fill the void left by Robben and Ribery. But putting Coutinho as a winger – even if it’s on a freedom-based role – would be a mistake. He was one of the best players in the world when he used to play as an attacking midfielder for Liverpool, and was unable to transcend at Barca precisely because he couldn’t play on that role.
Bayern must be smart. Getting a player like Coutinho on loan doesn’t happen every week, and they can’t misuse him. They can’t do what Barcelona did to the Brazilian. If Bayern have him, they must play him on his best role. And that’s the role of a creative mind in the final third.
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