Barcelona have reportedly offered Philippe Coutinho to Arsenal in a proposed swap deal as the Spanish club look to offload the Brazilian this summer.
Coutinho was left out of the squad that hosted Real Sociedad in Barcelona’s La Liga opener, and despite the departure of Lionel Messi to Paris Saint Germain, their wage bill is still too large, with a move back to the Premier League potentially on the cards for the Brazilian after a difficult couple of years away from England.
Coutinho swapped Liverpool for Barcelona back in January 2018 when he left Reds in a club-record deal worth up to £142million.
However, after difficult spells at the club, either side of a loan spell in Germany with Bayern Munich, the midfielder is once again being linked with a move away.
Barcelona president Joan Laporta is currently overlooking a major squad overhaul to try and cut down debts at the club with high earners like Coutinho, Antoine Griezmann and Samuel Umtiti all being tipped to follow Messi out of the exit door.
In an effort to shift Coutinho out of Barcelona, Barcelona and said to be willing to swap him for Arsenal captain Pierre Emerick Aubameyang.
If the Gunners refuse to let Aubameyang go, then the swap offer remains from Barcelona, but with Alexandre Lacazette included instead.
Arsenal were reportedly keen on Coutinho during the early stages of the transfer window, but the knee injury he was nursing at the time put paid to any potential interest.
So, if the deal between the two clubs was to happen and Coutinho and Aubameyang were to swap clubs, what would happen?
To find out, we booted up Football Manager 2021 to simulate next season with Coutinho in the Arsenal squad, and Aubameyang in Barcelona.
Philippe Coutinho ‘signs’ for Arsenal in the 2021 summer transfer window
We had Coutinho officially ‘sign’ for the Gunners on Football Manager 2021 and join up with his new teammates on July 1st 2021.
This is what the Brazilian’s FM21 profile looks like in-game as of July 2021.
Coutinho had a strong individual first season with Arsenal as he became a regular starter in the Premier League.
The Brazilian unfortunately suffered a knee injury around Christmas time which saw him miss a couple of games, but when he played, Coutinho was a creative spark, grabbing 11 goals and nine assists in 39 games.
Here’s a list of his full stats from the season in all competitions:
Coutinho averaged a rating of 7.17 in all competitions, Arsenal’s third-highest of the season behind Thomas Partey and Ben White.
At the end of the 2021/22 season, Football Manager 2021 put together an overall best Arsenal XI, based on performances, statistics and other metrics.
This is what the best Arsenal XI looked like in 2021/22 according to FM21.
Full Arsenal best XI: Leno; Bellerin, White, Gabriel, Tierney; Partey, Sambi Lokonga; Saka, Smith-Rowe, Coutinho; Lacazette
Coutinho slotted into the left-wing position which was previously occupied by Aubameyang, leaving Smith-Rowe to fill the attacking midfielder role in the team.
So, how did the Gunners perform in all competitions in our simulated season with Coutinho in the squad?
Arsenal’s 2021/22 season results with Coutinho
Against the odds, Arsenal secured a top-four finish in the Premier League and earned themselves Champions League football for the first time since the 2016/17 season.
They were on the outskirts of a three-way title challenge between Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City, with the latter emerging victorious.
So how did Arsenal do in the domestic cup competitions?
Mikel Arteta’s side suffered defeat to Chelsea in the semi-finals on two occasions – once in the FA Cup and once in the Carabao Cup.
Chelsea then went on to win both competitions, rubbing salt in the wounds of Arsenal.
Overall, the Football Manager 2021 simulation predicts Coutinho’s arrival in North London could be a decisive signing, with his creative impact in the side helping them to a top-four finish and a return to the Champions League.
Do you think this swap deal would be a good deal for Arsenal? Let us know in the comments below!