It's a vital decision which isn't going to receive universal praise. It's a delicate situation when it comes to handling the future of FC Barcelona's record signing. That problem relates to Philippe Coutinho. As the season draws to its conclusion, a decision will need to be made on the Brazilian's role going forward.
As revealed by SPORT, the club and the player will meet at the end of next month to reassess the issue. Once the Champions League quarter final matches with Manchester United are over, everything will become clearer. 'Phil', who has had a lot of chances to succeed at Barça, has lost his place in both the 4-3-3 and 4-4-2 systems to Ousmane Dembele.
There have been bright sparks, moments where you felt the Brazilian had turned a corner, only for his irregular form to resurface. The at one point outcast and injured Dembele has, in contrast, become a clear member of the first team squad and established himself alongside Suarez and Messi. The size of the task at hand came last weekend when Valverde opted for the 4-4-2, with Dembele out injured, but kept Coutinho on the bench and opted for Arturo Vidal instead..
A COMPLICATED DECISION
This is why the club has drawn up a list of pros and cons behind the potential sale of Coutinho. There's little to no hope of getting a full return on their initial outlay, €160m including variables, but Barça are confident they could get at least €100m for the Brazilian this summer.
Reasons to sell Coutinho:
It isn't complicated to make this list. Philippe has had a year and a half to prove his worth, to replicate the form he showed at Liverpool, but he simply doesn't fit. He lacks confidence, fails to take control of matches and plays well below the level he's capable of. Coutinho hasn't come close to justifying the club's outcome on him, or encourage the supporters to back him.
Barça believe his stock is still high in England due to those performances for Liverpool. Chelsea, assuming they are able to sign in the summer, would be interested as they look to replace Eden Hazard. Another option is PSG, who were interested in the player before he signed for Barcelona. However the bad relationship between the two clubs makes this one unlikely.
Reasons to keep Coutinho:
Here is where pride comes into play. Philippe doesn't want to leave after so recently becoming the record signing at Barça. He was one of the faces of this revolution. Coutinho's arrival raised expectations and if he's put up for sale, it'd signal a major failure on the part of the club. For a player many believe to be a future world star, surely one year and a half is too soon?
Another potential negative would be if Coutinho was successful at his new club. Away from Messi's shadow and with perhaps more freedom, no one could deny we might see a different side to Coutinho. Klopp found a way to get the best out of the midfielder, he just needs to find his place.
It's a difficult decision to make.