Philippe Coutinho has conceded he did not have a good season with Barcelona but has promised improvement through hard work.
The Brazilian made a much anticipated €120 million move from Liverpool to Barcelona in January 2018 and initially enjoyed success at Camp Nou.
But after eight goals and five assists in 18 league games in his half-season debut, Coutinho struggled in his first full campaign, he managed just five goals and two assists in La Liga, while adding another three goals and three assists in the Champions League.
The difficulties saw Coutinho lose his place to Ousmane Dembele, but even when restored by Dembele’s injuries, his struggles left him the vocal target of criticism from supporters, especially following Barcelona’s elimination by his former club Liverpool in the Champions League semi-finals.
And Coutinho conceded he has not enjoyed a strong campaign, while suggesting improvement is on the way due to his work ethic.
“I have not had a good season,” said Coutinho.”My performances have been a lot worse than I expected they would.
“The only way to improve and gain confidence is through hard work, and I have been working hard.”
Coutinho will be looking to make those improvements in the short term as he will be seen as one of the key players for Brazil at the Copa America, where the Selecao go for their first regional crown since 2007 and their ninth overall.
The task for the host nation was made more difficult when star forward Neymar was ruled out of the tournament following an ankle injury suffered in a friendly against Qatar.
Seen as one of the players who must step up in that absence, Coutinho scored from the spot on Sunday while also assisting on a Thiago Silva goal in a 7-0 rout of Honduras in Brazil’s last tune up before they open up group play against Bolivia on Friday.
Coutinho drew praise from Thiago Silva for his performance in that victory as well as the win over Qatar, as the PSG man called the attacker the “best player on the pitch” and believes he has found his happiness again.
A good performance in this summer’s tournament could go a long way toward clearing up Coutinho’s club future, which is considered tenuous at Barca.