Barcelona are reportedly attempting to free up funds for their summer transfer targets by offering Newcastle and Arsenal Philippe Coutinho, who is surplus to requirements at the Camp Nou. As tempting as that deal may seem, the Magpies must not take the bait and bring the misfiring Brazilian back to the Premier League, as their statement arrival should the Saudi backed takeover be completed.
Twelve years ago, Manchester City made an almost identical move that came back to haunt them. On the very same day that the Abu Dhabi investment group took charge of the Sky Blues in 2008, they smashed the British transfer record to bring the Brazilian from Madrid to Manchester for £32.5m. The transfer was a surprise to most including the now 36-year-old – who is on the cusp of securing the Turkish Super Lig title for Istanbul Basaksehir – as he was expected to arrive at Stamford Bridge to join Chelsea.
Robinho’s introduction to Premier League life began well, scoring 14 top-flight goals in his first term as the Sky Blues finished tenth. But, inevitably, the situation quickly soured, and by January the following year, the Brazilian had been sent back to Santos on loan, where he began his career. Soon after the winger joined AC Milan, having muddled his way through a second term which included just one FA Cup goal.
Later on the forward recounted why his time at the Etihad Stadium had been so underwhelming, recounting that “at AC Milan, I was surrounded by great players; it wasn’t the same at City”.
There is no guarantee that if compatriot Coutinho, valued at £50m by Transfermarkt, was to make the switch to Newcastle, his move would go the same way. But surely it makes sense to invest throughout the squad, rather than make one statement arrival.
Manchester City deserve credit for learning from their mistakes to bring in multiple players who were not yet at elite clubs nor the finished article but close to it. Sergio Aguero, David Silva and more recently Kevin De Bruyne are all players who arrived at City for sizeable sums but have improved and increased in value since joining.
If Newcastle pin their Premier League hopes on one player the club will be setting itself up for a fall, both Manchester City and Liverpool have proved in recent season that squad depth brings success, not individuals. A statement move for Coutinho is an exciting prospect for supporters because it would mean for the first time since Alan Shearer smiled and waved outside St James’ Park in 1996 that Newcastle could compete with the elite financially.
But in reality, a move for Coutinho, like Robinho’s arrival 12 years prior, would be nothing more than a financial flex.