Philippe Coutinho introduced at FC Bayern – Sport

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Coutinho at FC Bayern : Even seals agree

Philippe Coutinho on Monday in his Bavarian jersey in the arena.

  • By borrowing Coutinho, FC Bayern is solving two problems at once.
  • He gets more creativity for the sometimes predictable offensive game – and he has brought in a player who saves the transfer effort.
  • Coutinho gets an important back number: the ten of Arjen Robben, which the club didn’t want to award this season.

Monday midday at the Munich Arena. A few families are on the ramp in front of the stadium, the children wear jerseys with numbers that every fan of FC Bayern can assign. The 25 – Thomas Müller. The 22 – Serge Gnabry. The 9 – Robert Lewandowski. In the arena there are only a few dozen people on the stands, they have booked a guided tour, now they get an encore.

A man in full Bavarian outfit, red socks, red shorts, red jersey, the number 10 on his back is running on the grass. The 10 is the easiest exercise, everyone knows who has worn the holy 10 at FC Bayern over the past ten years, Arjen Robben of course, the winning goal scorer in the Champions League 2013.

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The man in the number 10 jersey running on the grass on Monday, juggling the ball five times, ten times, twenty times, but eight centimetres smaller than the original, with more hair on his head, a few on his chin to boot, and not pulling from the right to the centre of the pitch to sink the ball into the goal. The Bavarian number 10 has not been wearing Arjen Robben since this Monday either. The number 10 wears Philippe Coutinho, 27 years old, 172 centimetres tall, Brazilian international, on loan from FC Barcelona for at least a year.

Arjen Robben “has no problem at all with that”

Sports director Hasan Salihamidzic, executive board boss Karl-Heinz Rummenigge tells in the press room of the arena, called Robben in the morning. After the Dutchman had finished his career in the summer, they had decided at the club not to award his number for this season, as well as Franck Ribéry’s 7, who also no longer belongs to the squad (and is still looking for a club), “as a great gesture to our players,” says Rummenigge. In that phone call, Salihamidzic Robben said they could not keep to this great gesture because of Coutinho. Robben, quotes Rummenigge, “has no problem at all, he wishes Philippe all the best. He is a more than worthy successor for the jersey with the number 10”. And at least with the last sentence it is not quite clear whether that said seals in such a way, or whether only Rummenigge says so.

They are very proud of themselves at FC Bayern on Monday. When Coutinho enters the press room, he is followed by a busload of people, his wife Aine, his advisors and other companions. Among all these people hides also more or less well camouflaged Bavarian President Uli Hoeneß, who takes a seat in the spectator stands. On the podium is Coutinho – still civilian with a blue suit and black T-shirt – in the middle, next to him Rummenigge and Salihamidzic. The sports director seems more relaxed than perhaps ever before in his almost two years in office, he sits quite upright, perhaps he floats, it’s hard to tell the difference. Salihamidzic says: “This is a transfer that suits FC Bayern well.”

Coutinho solves several problems at once for the Bavarians. There is the sporting problem that the offensive game of the team under coach Niko Kovac was sometimes very predictable. Also in the 2:2 against Berlin at the opening of the league on Friday most of the attacks ran over the wings, through the center came almost nothing. In the middle, says Salihamidzic about Coutinho, “is his position where he can show the creativity he lives, and that is important for our team. Salihamidzic talks about balls that Coutinho can “put through” and also about the fact that he can better serve “our laces”.

Coutinho says: “My favourite position to give my best is the tenth position, because that’s where I can move the best”. But where he plays, the coach will decide. (Which promises a little tension, because Kovac doesn’t have a tenner in the current system.) The second problem that Coutinho solves, which is not insignificant either, is the club’s transfer record.

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Christina Cherry
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