The Brazilian has pulled on the shirt of some of Europe’s biggest clubs, dazzling fans and opposition players alike with his ability to score and create.
And after signing for Aston Villa on loan from Barcelona, we take a closer look at his career path to date…
Coutinho was born not far from the iconic Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro, in a town named Rocha.
His footballing abilities, honed by hours of futsal in the streets alongside his two elder brothers, were soon recognised by the scouts of Vasco da Gama, who invited him to attend a trial.
A young Coutinho was hesitant at first, he recalled: “I was crying and I didn’t want to play because I was shy. When I actually started to play, it was all normal and natural. I wasn’t shy anymore, I was enjoying it.”
Flourishing on his way through the ranks at Vasco, international age-group call-ups and acclaim in Brazil soon turned heads in Europe.
Italian Giants Come Calling
Inter Milan beat off competition from Europe’s elite to attain Coutinho’s signature in 2008, paying £3.4 million to sign the 16-year-old.
Italian rules prohibited foreign players from playing professionally until they were 18, resulting in the Brazilian heading back to Vasco on loan for two years to continue his development.
Staying in his homeland worked out well for Coutinho, who played 12 times in Série B as Vasco were promoted as champions before finishing his time at the club with 31 appearances the following season.
Upon his arrival at Inter in the summer of 2010, manager Rafa Benitez hailed him as “the future of Inter Milan”. And despite a promising start to Coutinho’s time with the Nerazzurri, Benitez was sacked in December and he fell out of favour with new man Leonardo.
The playmaker’s stay at the San Siro spanned six managers, 45 games, five goals and two trophies, with a productive loan spell at Espanyol along the way.
Lauded at Liverpool
In January 2013, Liverpool swooped in to sign Coutinho for £8.5 million. Still only 20-years-old, the creative Brazilian found the perfect place to fulfil his potential.
In a team featuring Villa head coach Steven Gerrard and goalscorers Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, Coutinho helped fire the Reds agonisingly close to the Premier League title in his second season on Merseyside, losing out by two points.
Suarez said of Coutinho: “He’s the one that gave us faith in having the ball because his technical ability is so good. You knew that he wouldn’t lose it, you knew that he would produce something special with it, that he would always choose the right pass.”
While team honours eluded him at Liverpool, Coutinho wasn’t short of individual accolades, winning both the club’s Players’ Player and Fans’ Player of the Season awards in successive campaigns.
Coutinho’s dreams came true when Barcelona sealed a deal estimated to be worth up to £146 million in January 2018. At the time, he said: “I am very happy, it is a dream come true and I hope to meet all expectations in the field.”
Just a few months later and Coutinho was holding the La Liga trophy aloft, having contributed eight goals and five assists in 18 appearances. He also netted in the final of the Copa del Rey as Barcelona won the double.
In his first full season with the club, the Brazilian totalled 34 league games en route to helping Barca to successive La Liga titles.
Bayern Munich took Coutinho on a season-long loan in August 2019 and his trophy cabinet continued to fill up during his time at Allianz Arena, winning the Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League.
Starring for the Seleção
Representing Brazil is extremely significant to Coutinho as it gave him the belief that he could make it in the professional game when he had doubts as a young player.
He recalled: “I first thought to myself, ‘Okay, you can actually be a professional’ when I got called up to the Brazil Under-14 squad.”
From that first call-up, he was a regular at age-group level for his country, winning the South American Under-17 Championship and the 2011 FIFA Under-20 World Cup.
At senior level, Coutinho missed out on the 2014 World Cup squad, eventually making his mark four years later when he made the Team of the Tournament in Russia.
His crowning moment with Brazil came at the 2019 Copa América, where the Seleção lifted the trophy on home soil.