Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has heaped praise on Philippe Coutinho for playing a starring role in their 5-1 Champions League trouncing of Lyon and now expects him to build on the performance.
Doubts have been cast over the Brazilian’s long-term future at the Nou Camp in recent times following Coutinho’s battle to justify his £145million transfer fee.
Coutinho has struggled with inconsistency since joining from Liverpool back in January last year, but will be buoyed by his display on Wednesday night as Barcelona sealed their spot in the quarter-finals.
Philippe Coutinho has been heavily praised by his boss after helping Barcelona thrash Lyon
The 26-year-old laid the grounds for optimism by grabbing a goal on the night while his overall play was impressive.
A double from Lionel Messi and goals from Gerard Pique and Ousmane Dembele completed the 5-1 win but Valverde was particularly complimentary of Coutinho after the match.
‘It was an important game for him [Coutinho] as it was for everyone, our club and our team,’ Valverde said.
Coutinho scored Barcelona’s second goal of the night as they beat Lyon 5-1 at the Nou Camp
Lionel Messi also grabbed himself a brace in Wednesday night’s comfortable victory
‘I think he had a great game. It is true maybe this year he’s had some not great matches, but in some specific times he did well, he scored two goals against Sevilla.
‘So, we expect him to get more confidence in order to give us his best. We are happy for him.’
His goal on Wednesday evening was his first for the club in almost two months – and first Champions League goal at the Nou Camp.
Now, Coutinho will hope to continue his form when Barcelona travel to Real Betis in La Liga on Sunday in their final game before the international break.
Ernesto Valverde said: ‘We are all happy for Coutinho. We expect him to give us his best now’