Noel Whelan has given his reaction to Newcastle United’s expected bid for Philippe Coutinho in the January transfer window.
The Lowdown: Bid expected
As per Sport (via Sport Witness), Barcelona are ‘expecting’ a bid from the St James’ Park club for the Brazilian in January and would accept a loan offer which includes an obligation to buy.
Would you be happy to sign Coutinho regardless of the price?
However, that could leave them and Coutinho in an awkward position at the end of the season if the Magpies find themselves relegated from the Premier League.
The Brazil international is a decorated player who will not want to be playing Championship football under any circumstances, so a separate clause may need to be added if Newcastle do end up losing their top-flight status.
The Latest: Whelan reacts
Speaking to Football Insider, former Leeds United and Coventry City striker Whelan has since given his reaction to the transfer news, suggesting that Coutinho could make a difference in the Magpies’ relegation fight. The 46-year-old said:
“They are going to need these creative players this season to create chances for a front three who could bail them out of trouble.
“I think when you’re looking at bringing a player like Coutinho in, there is always going to be question marks over the effort levels he is going to bring. It’s down to him how he rises to the challenge.
“I’m sure the fans will be excited by the signing; they will probably have the memories fresh in their minds of his last spell in the Premier League.
“He needs that fresh challenge, and if it’s Newcastle then the fans could be in for a real treat.
“If he’s playing at 100% then he can be a match-winner and difference-maker for them.”
The Verdict: Risky, but worth it
It would certainly be a risk to bring Coutinho to Tyneside, especially if Newcastle find themselves relegated at the end of the campaign. However, as Whelan points out, the 29-year-old could be the difference-maker to help turn their season around.
It is no secret how well he did in the Premier League with Liverpool, with a total of 78 goal contributions in 152 games in the division (Transfermarkt). His former Reds teammate Roberto Firmino heaped praise on him in October 2020, claiming in an interview with FIFA.com that Coutinho is ‘one of the very best players in the world’ and has ‘magical powers’.
Nonetheless, at 29 years of age, the Brazil playmaker will feel as if he still has a point to prove, and what better way to do it than by returning to a league that he lit up just a few years ago.
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