Barcelona director Guillermo Amor assured club-record signing Philippe Coutinho that he still has a big future at the club despite being left on the bench for the past four La Liga games.
Coutinho, 26, has not started a league match since Dec. 2 and only came on for the final seven minutes as Barca won 2-1 at Getafe on Sunday.
This month brings up the one-year anniversary of his €160 million transfer from Liverpool and he may have expected to be playing a bigger role by now.
Instead, he’s seen his place on the left of the front three taken by Ousmane Dembele, while both Arturo Vidal and Arthur Melo have been preferred in midfield.
“Coutinho’s a player with a lot of experience, one of the best players in Europe and he is ready to play [for] five minutes or 90 minutes,” Amor told Movistar when asked if the club were concerned by the lack of return from their investment so far.
“He’s a player that thinks more about the team than himself and there are no doubts about him being one of the best players in the world. He’s always played well for Barca, he could play [every game] from the off.
“Barça signed him because he’s one of the best in the world and he’s going to give us a lot. He’s got many years left on his contract and a lot to give to Barcelona.”
Coutinho has made 22 appearances in all competitions this season, although only 15 of those have come from the start.
Despite his exclusion in recent weeks, Barca coach Ernesto Valverde maintains that it’s a luxury to be able to choose between players like Coutinho and Dembele.
The Brazilian is likely to get plenty of action in January, though, as the knockout stages of the Copa del Rey continue. Sunday’s win at Getafe was Barca’s first of four games in 12 days, in which they will also face Levante twice in the cup and Eibar in the league.
First-half goals from Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez saw off Getafe at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez as the Blaugrana opened up a five-point lead at the top of the table following Atletico Madrid’s draw with Sevilla.
“We knew the other results and we had that added pressure of having to take advantage of our opportunity,” Valverde said in his postgame news conference.
“We knew it would be a tough game and it was. In the first half we had control, but [Getafe] got back in to the game with their goal [via Jaime Mata] before half-time. In the end, we’re happy with the result. We extended our lead over the teams chasing us, but there’s still a long way to go.”
The win moved Barca 10 points ahead of Real Madrid, whose difficult campaign continued with defeat at home to Real Sociedad earlier on Sunday, but Valverde’s not ruling Santiago Solari’s slouches out of the title race yet.
“Madrid are still there,” he added. “The maths doesn’t rule them out and we have to be careful. We know the competitive gene Madrid have and we can’t rule anyone out.
“There’s still a long way to go. There are also other rivals, like Sevilla and Atletico, who will always be tough.”