‘Great’ showing from under-fire Coutinho pleases Barca boss Valverde

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The midfielder’s goalscoring display against Lyon has the Barcelona boss excited for his future with the club amid ongoing speculation.

Ernesto Valverde heaped praise on Philippe Coutinho following his performance in Barcelona’s 5-1 Champions League triumph over Lyon en route to the quarter-finals.

Doubts over Coutinho’s future at Camp Nou have emerged despite only joining Barca from Liverpool in January 2018 due to his inconsistent displays.

But the Brazilian was on target for Barcelona, the 26-year-old scoring just past the half-hour mark on Wednesday after Lionel Messi’s opener.

Messi finished with a brace, while Gerard Pique and Ousmane Dembele were also on target for the La Liga champions after Lyon made it 2-1 in the 58th minute via Lucas Tousart.

And Barca head coach Valverde was pleased with Coutinho post-match amid his struggles this season.

“It was an important game for him [Coutinho] as it was for everyone, our club and our team,” Valverde said during his news conference.

“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.”

The goal was the first for Coutinho for the club since late January, when he bagged a brace in a 6-1 win over Sevilla in the Copa del Rey.

The win sees Barcelona join Manchester City, Manchester United, Ajax, Porto, Liverpool, Tottenham and Juventus is the quarter-final draw, which is set to take place on Friday.

The Spanish giants sit seven points clear of nearest rival Atletico Madrid in the La Liga table and return to the pitch Sunday to face Real Betis ahead of the international break.


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