Philippe Coutinho

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Coutinho arrives as Brazil downs Bolivia in Copa America opener

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Philippe Coutinho had an extremely difficult first season at Barcelona, but he put those struggles behind him when his country needed him the most. Missing the injured Neymar, Coutinho stepped up and delivered a brace as Brazil downed Bolivia 3-0, with Gremio winger Everton adding the cherry on top.

The first half Brazil completely dominated, but were wasteful as they looked to create the perfect goal. They put 12 shots towards net but only found the target with one in the first 45 minutes, failing to find the breakthrough.

After the break Brazil boss Tite made changes tactically and Brazil was far more dangerous, paying off almost immediately. A Richarlison cross in the box clipped the arm of Adriano Jusino and using VAR the referee gave the penalty. Coutinho arrived at the spot to dispatch the penalty with a low, driving effort and open the scoring.

The Barcelona frontman wasn’t done, making a wonderful late run to meet Roberto Firmino‘s cross at the far post and heading in Brazil’s second just three minutes later.

After the second goal, Brazil immediately shut it down, controlling possession and passing around at a slow tempo. Bolivia hardly saw a touch of the ball after Brazil took its 2-0 lead, with the hosts winning every aerial battle and getting to every loose ball. They finished the game with a passing advantage of 553-145. Gabriel Jesus came on for the final 25 minutes in place of Firmino, and Everton replaced David Neres. The latter would prove fruitful, as the 23-year-old danced past two defenders into the box and delivered an absolutely beautiful curler that left Carlos Lampe with no chance.

The win is the fourth in a row for Brazil who has now kept three straight clean sheets as well. Bolivia, meanwhile, is in real trouble given the monumentally difficult group they were drawn in, with Peru and Venezuela also real threats to reach the knockout stage.

Watch Live: Copa America begins as hosts Brazil meet Bolivia

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The hosts are set to kick off the 2019 Copa America as Brazil takes on Bolivia in Sao Paulo.

Neymar will not take part in the tournament after suffering an ankle injury in the warmup friendlies. That increases the importance on Philippe Coutinho and Richarlison who look to shoulder the brunt of the creativity.

[ WATCH LIVE: Brazil vs. Bolivia on Telemundo Deportes ]

As Tite takes charge of his 39th match as manager of Brazil, Champions League winners Liverpool is heavily represented as Roberto Firmino leads the lines and Alisson starts in goal. Dani Alves captains the side as club teammate Neymar was stripped of the armband before his injury.

PSG teammates Marqinhos and Thiago Silva both start as the center-back partnership, while Casemiro and Fernandinho start together in central midfield. Everton winger Richarlison is in the lineup as well, opposite Ajax attacker David Neres. Miranda, Arthur, Willian, and Gabriel Jesus are all on the bench for Brazil as Tite rotates the attackers.

For Bolivia, Marcelo Moreno of Chinese club Shijiazhuang Ever Bright leads the attack up front supported by a trio of central midfielders in Raul Castro, Fernando Saucedo, and Leonel Justiniano as Bolivia looks to attack through the wide areas with Alejandro Chumacero and Erwin Saaedra.

What? Chelsea reportedly eyeing Coutinho if transfer ban is lifted

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The report is sensational, if a bit illogical.

Multiple sources are running with the story that Chelsea would aim to buy Philippe Coutinho from Barcelona should their appeal of a two-window transfer ban prove successful.

[ MORE: U.S. U-20s move on ]

Chelsea is expected to sell Eden Hazard to Real Madrid in a bumper deal despite just one year remaining on the Belgian’s contract, while Coutinho is 18 months younger and has a deal with Barca through the 2022-23 season.

Coutinho only managed 11 goals and five assists in his second season at the Camp Nou, far worse than the 10 goals and six assists he posted in a half-season the prior campaign.

In his career he’s never managed more than 14 goals in a single season, including his time as Liverpool’s main target. Hazard annually trumped that total, and Willian is coming off a better year at age 30.

Coutinho is capable of the sublime, but it seems like Chelsea fans might want to hope the transfer window stays shut in this case rather than drop over $100 million on a risky bet.

Arriving American youngster Christian Pulisic has better club momentum as it stands, Maurizio.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Europa League fallout for Arsenal, Chelsea

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With the Europa League final complete and Chelsea reigning supreme, there is plenty of fallout to come with the Blues back in the Champions League and Arsenal failing to seal the deal.

For Arsenal, the blow could be heavy. The club is strapped for cash now headed for its third straight season in the Europa League, and they allowed 28-year-old Aaron Ramsey to depart this summer for free, a financial failure that could have serious consequences.

According to a report by The Mirror, manager Unai Emery is hoping to overhaul the squad this summer, but his job will be difficult given the financial constraints of failing to reach the Champions League. He could be forced to sell assets to generate cash, and while Arsenal fans may be happy to see the likes of Shkodran Mustafi and Mesut Ozil on the list of players who could depart this summer, Henrikh Mkhitaryan could reportedly also be sacrificed in the process. The report states that the wage bill may actually be a bigger obstacle to the club’s acquisition power than transfer funds, yet still there may only be around $50 million for Emery to play with this summer.

Players like Ozil and Mustafi could generate a decent cash flow, but they have underperformed the last few seasons, and Ozil especially has wages that could limit the club’s ability to shop him. The report states that Inter Milan could be a possible destination with possible new manager Antonio Conte hoping to boost the attack.


For Chelsea, their summer is also in question, despite securing Champions League play. The Blues have a potential transfer ban hanging over their heads, and the impending decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport will have an enormous impact on their proceedings over the next few months.

Regardless of the decision, however, it looks as if Eden Hazard has played his final game in Chelsea blue, and the rumors continue to churn of his departure for Real Madrid. English tabloids have stated that Hazard is off to Real Madrid for an enormous $145 million fee, although that seems unlikely as reports consistently stated over the last few weeks that Los Blancos were holding firm to their $125 million ceiling and that Chelsea would likely concede to that amount due to Hazard’s contract situation.

Should Chelsea be able to replace Hazard this summer and the ban is lifted or delayed, the Blues could look to a former Premier League star to take over. Philippe Coutinho has had a horrible first year at Barcelona, and it seems the club is shopping him to various interested parties. Chelsea could be a perfect landing spot for Coutinho and they could secure him far below market value after his disastrous season at the Camp Nou. Spanish publication Mundo Deportivo claims that Chelsea would be in pole position to secure Coutinho should the CAS allow the club to sign players this summer, and while Manchester United is interested, their lack of Champions League play this season sees them at a serious disadvantage.

Chelsea could also secure the permanent signatures of current loanees Mateo Kovacic and Gonzalo Higuain whether the club is banned from transfer acquisitions or not, as they are both already registered with the club. Kovacic, a Real Madrid player out on loan, could likely be secured on a permanent deal separate from the Hazard negotiation. Higuain, meanwhile, may wait to see if Maurizio Sarri is confirmed as the Chelsea manager next season before he commits his future to Stamford Bridge.


According to Mundo Deportivo in a report that corroborates earlier reporting in the English tabloids, Manchester United is seriously considering a massive offer to free agent midfielder Adrien Rabiot. The Red Devils are reportedly set to offer Rabiot an $12.5 million signing bonus and wages of around $220,000 a week or about $11.5 million a season, which would match the demands he’s stuck to in negotiations over the past few months.

The report states that with other top clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Juventus unwilling to meet his high financial demands, Rabiot could find United’s offer intriguing. Rabiot, a 24-year-old French midfielder, has had major character issues in the past at both the club and country levels, but his play on the field as a top box-to-box midfielder is helping offset the questions about his personality. Should Manchester United bring Rabiot on, he could directly challenge Paul Pogba for a spot in the team, or even serve as a Pogba replacement should he depart this summer as rumors have suggested over the past few months.


24-year-old Lille attacker Nicolas Pepe is a wanted man this summer, and while he has been linked with a move to Manchester United in recent weeks, Liverpool has also entered the fray, according to Sunday Times reporter Duncan Castles on the Team Talk podcast. Castles said that Liverpool “has been in contact” with Lille still waiting on anything official to come through. Castles says that Lille has been quite public about an asking price in the range of $89 million for the Ivory Coast international who just appears to be entering his prime.

Pepe scored 22 Ligue 1 goals this season which put him second on the campaign behind PSG superstar Kylian Mbappe. He helped Lille finish a stunning second in the league table, qualifying the club for Champions League play for the first time since 2012. Manchester United is in desperate need of reinforcements all over the pitch, but could miss out if Champions League play is a priority to Pepe who has never played in the competition. Still, Liverpool may pass on any players that cost such a hefty amount, as their squad is already one of the strongest in Europe and may not require such a massive cost to add missing pieces.

Messi, Barcelona knock Manchester United out of Champions League (video)

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The fairytale ending didn’t materialize for Manchester United, as Lionel Messi and Barcelona thumped their visitors 3-0 on Tuesday at the Camp Nou to win the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal 4-0 on aggregate.

Messi scored twice and Philippe Coutinho also scored as Barca advanced to meet the winner of Liverpool and Porto.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

United controlled the ball off the opening kickoff, and Paul Pogba sent Marcus Rashford on goal only to see the young striker rip a shot over the cross bar.

United had the better of the early chances, but Ivan Rakitic’s charge for a loose ball saw him trip over the outstretched leg of Fred in the box. It wasn’t intentional, and the decision would go to VAR.

No penalty.

Barca went ahead minutes later, as Messi cut in from the right to swerve a sensational strike around the diving De Gea.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

And it was 2-0 before long, 3-0 on aggregate, as Messi’s low drive took a slight turn off Phil Jones but still seemed destined for De Gea’s arms only to squirt underneath the United keeper.

De Gea made a face save before halftime to deny Sergi Roberto and Messi in their bid to ice the contest.

Coutinho put it to bed with just under a half-hour to play, and Liverpool fans have seen this a time or two.