Arsenal may love Philippe Coutinho but they don’t need him

Ollie Irish

5th, August 2020

The tabloids are shouting from the rooftops about Arsenal’s apparent “love” for tiny 1930s Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho. The original story appeared in Spanish rag SPORT, and the English press is running with it. The rumour makes sense when you know that Phil’s agent is Kia Joorabchian, the man who brought David Luiz and Cedric Soares to the Gunners.

But given that Arsenal look likely to sign Willian soon (another Joorabchian client), and Mikel Arteta appears keen on developing Arsenal’s crop of younger attacking players, a loan move for Coutinho is a love affair waiting to go sour.

Coutinho is a mercurial talent but he flopped at Barcelona and has done little of note at current loan club Bayern. In the modern game, his lack of defensive contribution is just a headache – it’s why Jurgen Klopp sold him.

Arsenal don’t need the hassle, nor the huge wage bill. They would do far better to pass on Coutinho and get rid of Mesut Ozil too. Ending up with both on their books would be a disaster in the making.

On a sad side note, Arsenal announced today they plan to make 55 staff members redundant, including their head of UK scouting, due to a downturn in economic fortunes caused by the global pandemic. Most of Arsenal’s players and all of their coaching staff had already agreed to take a wage cut in April.

Let’s not forget that the club’s vile owner Stan Kroenke is a billionaire, and that Arsenal is the 11th-richest football club in the world. You might like to be reminded also that Ozil earns more than a quarter of a million pounds every seven days. These jobs don’t have to go. This is a minor scandal and would not have happened on Arsene Wenger’s watch. In 2017, Wenger was asked on BT Sport if it matters that players are overpriced in a billion-pound market. His reply: “What matters to me is if you have a club with 600 employees, that you can pay them at the end of the month. That is important for me.”

English football is still worse off without Wenger. Although he lost his way as a coach, his moral courage never wavered.

UPDATE: It looks like player power may yet have the final word here (see tweet below). News of the planned sackings has been very bad PR for Arsenal and I would not be surprised if they perform a U-turn.