Valverde on Coutinho: ‘He must work hard to reclaim his spot’

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Philippe Coutinho

Ernesto Valverde has urged Brazilian Philippe Coutinho to step up his game and continue to fight for his position at FC Barcelona. The Brazilian became the club’s record signing at the beginning of 2018, but has never reached the same level of form he showed at Liverpool.

Coutinho started a game for the first time since December 2 on Thursday in Barcelona’s 2-1 loss at Levante and the attacking midfielder converted a penalty in the 85th minute. Fellow record signing Ousmane Dembele joined Coutinho in completing a full 90 minutes and Valverde was happy with their performances.

“When Dembele wasn’t playing, everyone was asking me about him,” Valverde told reporters. “Now Dembele’s playing and Coutinho isn’t and the reverse is happening. Coutinho is a great player who has given us a lot and will give us a lot. I will say the same about Dembele. It’s a repetitive question with interchangeable names.”

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