Philippe Coutinho, 31, close to joining new team in biggest downfall yet since Liverpool exit

Philippe Coutinho left Liverpool for Barcelona in 2018.
-Credit: (Image: 2023 Getty Images)

Liverpool often sell players when the club deems it's time for them to leave. Other times, it's the players who want to leave Liverpool, and the club has little option other than to sell them as, after all, no club wants to keep an unhappy player.

Yet leaving Liverpool hasn't always worked out for those who decided to force a move away from Anfield. For every Xabi Alonso, Luis Suarez and Javier Mascherano, there's a Michael Owen, Gini Wijnaldum and, most glaringly, Philippe Coutinho.

The Brazilian's move to Barcelona in early 2018 has, in hindsight, gone down as one of the worst pieces of transfer business in the history of the game. It was a move in which nobody benefited from — except Liverpool. Coutinho joined a team who didn't need him, and Barcelona paid over the odds for Coutinho. The end result was the collapse of his career.

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Coutinho was 26 when he joined Barcelona. Seemingly in the prime of his career and coming off of four-and-a-half- successful years at Liverpool in which he scored over 50 goals in all competitions, his insistence to move to Camp Nou ultimately backfired.

Within 18 months he was sent to Bayern Munich on loan, and his greatest feat for Bayern was scoring against his parent club in an 8-2 demolition in the Champions League semi final in Portugal. He won the Champions League with the German giants, but was a peripheral figure. He was sent back to Spain but failed to hold down a starting position in the Barca XI.

A move to Aston Villa didn't set the world on fire either, with the player scoring a total of six goals. He joined Al-Duhail on loan to play in the Qatar Stars League, where he eight goals in 23 games. Now 31, Coutinho's career is about to come full circle, as he's about to sign for Brazilian club Vasco Da Gama.

A leaked picture shows the player wearing a Vasco shirt. However an official announcement hasn't been made as of yet. Coutinho played for Vasco from 2008 to 2010 and grew up in its youth academy in the 2000s. says: Coutinho's career is a cautionary tale of thinking the grass is greener, but not necessarily being so. At just 31, his career in Europe appears to be as good as done, and his career peaking at just 26. His career will always have the question mark of 'what if?' about it.