Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has admitted that January signing Philippe Coutinho has the versatility to play a number of roles for the club, dashing early suggestions that the Brazilian is the heir apparent to Andres Iniesta.
Coutinho arrived for a club record £142m last month after a drawn-out transfer saga stretching back to the summer, and although his league debut didn't go quite to plan - failing to impress and being subbed off in a tight win over Alaves - fans and bosses at the Catalan club have high hopes for his future.
Philippe Coutinho became the second most expensive player in history.— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) January 31, 2018
There was plenty of money spent in January. pic.twitter.com/5P4Sc6EUca
Speaking ahead of Thursday night's Copa del Rey semi-final first leg against Valencia, Valverde said: “What’s his ideal position? He’s a player who acquits himself well to various positions on the pitch: be it as a central midfielder or on the left or right of a frontline.
“He’ll help us in attack and is versatile enough to play in a few different positions. At Liverpool he often played on the left, while with Brazil he’s deployed on the right. We’ve seen that it’s gone well for both of those sides.”
Valverde also talked about Gerard Deulofeu, who has left the Nou Camp for Watford on loan for the remainder of the season after failing to take his chance after the departure of Neymar.
“These things happen," Valverde said. "He had his chances to show what he can do but things didn’t go as he’d have liked. We spoke with him and he needs minutes, especially when you consider there’s a World Cup on the horizon.”