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Record flop Coutinho rubs salt into Barca wounds

Lisbon (AFP) – Philippe Coutinho’s late two-goal cameo against Barcelona in Bayern Munich’s jaw-dropping 8-2 quarter-final victory Friday inflicted further misery on a club that splashed out a record 160 million euros ($189.5 million) to sign the Brazilian in January 2018.

Coutinho set up Robert Lewandowski and then netted the final two goals himself to put the seal on a remarkable Bayern display which saw them become the first team in the modern Champions League era to score eight goals in a knockout match.

Albeit against a dispirited Barca defence, Coutinho’s thrilling 15-minute performance will be all the more galling for his parent club after a disappointing 18 months in Catalonia following his trumpeted move from Liverpool.

“For someone like Philippe to come on and score two goals shows what quality we have in the squad,” said Bayern forward Thomas Mueller, as Barca conceded eight goals for the first time since losing to Sevilla 8-0 in the 1946 Spanish Cup.

An underwhelming return of 21 goals in 76 games prompted Barca to ship Coutinho, the club’s record transfer, out on loan to Bayern this season as the forward sought to reboot a floundering career. 

The 28-year-old has shown glimpses of his former self in Germany but again struggled at times for consistency, while an ankle injury has limited him to just a handful of substitute appearances since the season resumed following the coronavirus lockdown in May.

Bayern turned down a 120 million-euro option to buy Coutinho and the playmaker is set to return to Barca, perhaps only briefly, after club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said this week the German champions would not be extending his stay.

Rummenigge said on Tuesday that because of the coronavirus pandemic Bayern Munich “cannot make any further investments of this magnitude in these difficult economic times, which are also difficult for us.”

Coutinho has been linked with a return to the Premier League this summer, and with Barca “hitting rock bottom” according to defender Gerard Pique, they could well cut their losses with the Brazil international to free up funds to pursue Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez. 

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