The former Blaugrana star admits that the presence of another mercurial playmaker at Camp Nou has contributed to the struggles of a big-money signing.
Philippe Coutinho filled a Lionel Messi role while on the books at Liverpool, with Frank de Boer saying the Brazilian “doesn’t fit the puzzle” now that he has joined an Argentine superstar at Barcelona.
Coutinho revelled in that role and offered enough to the Reds cause to earn himself a big-money transfer to Camp Nou during the winter window of 2018.
That move has not worked out as planned either, leading to more questions of Coutinho’s future, with De Boer suggesting that the South American has been unable to operate in the shadow of others after losing his standing as the main man on Merseyside.
The former Barca star told talkSPORT: “I think Coutinho was a player where everything [went through] him, every ball went to him at Liverpool.
“He could probably do less work, basically what Messi does with Barcelona.
“And the thing is you see how everything works together, it’s like a machine.
“If one is not doing it it’s fine maybe, they can handle that, but if it’s two similar types of players, that they also want every ball and have that special position in the team, then you see how vulnerable a team can be.
“I think we saw that with Barcelona. There’s only one that can do that now and that is Messi.
“The team is adapting and if you have to adapt for two players like this, it’s difficult.
“I think Coutinho is an unbelievable player but sometimes he doesn’t fit the puzzle and maybe with another club it will go perfectly well.
“It doesn’t mean he is a bad player. It doesn’t mean that you are not a great player when you can’t play for Barcelona – no.