By 90Min
October 03, 2018

Spanish football expert Guillem Balagué has claimed that Philippe Coutinho needs to improve defensively before Barcelona can begin to start firing on all cylinders this season.

The former Liverpool playmaker swapped Anfield for the Camp Nou in a high-profile deal back in January this year, joining the Blaugrana for well over £100m. He was seen somewhat as a long-term replacement for club legend Andres Iniesta, who joined Vissel Kobe in the summer.

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So far Coutinho has been unable to show his best form in Catalonia, despite having an impressive record of 12 goals and eight assists in 31 games.

Balagué explained that this is because the Brazil international hasn't worked on his defensive work enough, causing Barcelona to become "more individual than collective" when they attack.

"Coutinho, bought from Liverpool for £142m in January, works wells enough in an attacking role, but the club’s midfielders require a more patient ball distribution and the Brazilian’s defensive work needs to improve," Balagué wrote on his BBC Sport column ahead of Barça's match against Tottenham.

"Too often this season their attacks have been more individual than collective and sometimes too direct. When Barcelona attack as a unit they defend as one as well - but right now, when they lose the ball, there are often big gaps between defence and midfield. Opponents have been exploiting this space."

Coutinho has seen his trophy collection more than double since moving to Barcelona earlier this year. The Brazilian has been involved in the club's La Liga, Copa del Rey and Super Cup winning sides, adding to his Coppa Italia and Italian Super Cup titles from back during his time in Italy.

The Vasco da Gama academy graduate is expected to start for Barcelona when they travel to face Tottenham on matchday two in the Champions League group stages.

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Barça will be full of confidence after dispatching PSV Eindhoven comfortably two weeks ago, while Spurs could have some nerves following their last-minute defeat on the road to Coutinho's former club, Inter.

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