Barcelona’s Philippe Coutinho is not expected to play again this season after undergoing a second operation on a knee injury.
The latest surgery means it is “virtually impossible” for Coutinho to successfully return before the end of the 2020-21 campaign, according to Sergi Capdevila at Diario Sport.
The Brazilian originally went under the knife to repair a damaged meniscus in January but required further treatment to remove a cyst on his knee which was causing a “synovial fluid leak.”
Capdevila reports the best-case scenario for Coutinho now is another two months out of action which means he would not be available for selection until the end of May. Barca’s final La Liga fixture is scheduled for the weekend of May 23-24.
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Has Coutinho Already Played His Last Game For Barca?
Coutinho has largely been forgotten about since being forced onto the sidelines with his knee injury. The former Liverpool man made 14 appearances in the first half of the season after returning from a successful loan spell with Bayern Munich, scoring three times and picking up two assists.
However, it’s difficult to see a place for Coutinho in Ronald Koeman’s side when he does return to fitness. Teenager Pedri has come into the starting XI and become a regular on the left of the midfield.
Meanwhile, Ousmane Dembele has also managed to return to full fitness this season and has become a key player for the Catalan giants in attack along with Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann.
Koeman also has a host of other young options in his squad including Ilaix Moriba, Francisco Trincao, and Riqui Puig who all look to have bright futures ahead of them at the Camp Nou.
The club is also expected to strengthen in the summer transfer window with players such as Erling Haaland and Memphis Depay regularly linked with a transfer to the Catalan side.
Cut-Price Coutinho Deal?
All of this means it’s likely Coutinho could head away from Barcelona in the summer, particularly with the club needing to sell players if they are to make any signings to strengthen the squad.
According to Diario Sport, Barca must also pay €20 million ($11.8m) more to Coutinho’s former club Liverpool if the Brazilian plays 10 more games for the Catalan giants as part of the transfer.
Coutinho has regularly been linked with a return to the Premier League during his time at Barcelona after starring for Liverpool before he swapped Anfield for the Camp Nou in January 2018.
Premier League side Arsenal is reportedly interested in Coutinho and could move for the 28-year-old if they fail to land Martin Odegaard on a permanent transfer from Real Madrid, according to the Daily Express.
Odegaard is currently on loan from Los Blancos and is starting to thrive under Mikel Arteta. The report also states that Coutinho could be available for as little as £20 million ($27m). Barca signed Coutinho for a fee reported to be as much as $170 million and may have to accept a heavy loss on the Brazil international.