Philippe Coutinho is hoping to get his career back on track at Aston Villa.
For the second time since his gargantuan £146 million move to Barcelona in 2018, the Brazilian midfielder will be pressing pause on his time at Camp Nou with a loan departure.
However, even if reuniting with Steven Gerrard channels the old Liverpool magic for a successful collaboration at Villa, it’s simply impossible to top Coutinho’s first loan spell away from Catalonia.
Coutinho’s loans away from Barcelona
Why? Well, because with all due respect to Villa, they couldn’t even compete to win the Champions League even if they wanted to, which is exactly what Coutinho achieved at Bayern Munich.
While the former Inter Milan baller’s time in Bavaria wasn’t necessary lucrative on an individual basis, there’s no denying that it ate up some serious room in his trophy cabinet.
Eleven goals in 38 games might not have been enough to tempt Bayern into a permanent move, but it did help the club to win the Champions League, Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal trophies.
Coutinho at Bayern Munich
However, it wasn’t just silverware that Coutinho was lifting because images of the midfielder when he returned to Barcelona suggested that he had been pumping iron, too.
It’s the worst-kept secret in football that Bayern have a fitness and conditioning approach that has led to many of their star players bulking up across their time at the Allianz Arena.
There have been more than enough photographic comparisons to suggest that Robert Lewandowski, Leon Goretzka, Alphonso Davies and many others have benefitted from the regime.
Coutinho’s body transformation at Bayern
So, it shouldn’t be surprising that the Coutinho who lined up for the 2020/21 season after his Bayern loan was looking far more muscly than the Coutinho who left for Germany the year before.
In fact, you only had to look at the Brazilian posing in his number 14 jersey at Barcelona either side of his time in Bavaria to see that he had followed the trend of Bayern players piling on the muscle.
But don’t just take our word for it because you can check out several comparison images of Coutinho before and after his year with Bayern Munich down below:
Tite confirms Coutinho’s bulking
Still don’t believe us? Ok, well, trust us when we say that suggestions of Coutinho’s body transformation in the Bundesliga aren’t merely the result of flattering angles or tricks of the light.
We say that because Brazil manager Tite confirmed that Coutinho had indeed experienced a substantial change in his physique across the season at Bayern during an interview in 2020.
According to Marca, the Brazil boss remarked: “There’s a factor you have to bear in mind; Coutinho is a player who is very dedicated to the physical aspect.
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“This is even more so after his spell at Bayern Munich, where he gained five kilograms in body weight, four kilos of which were muscle mass. He’s improved a lot physically.”
Now, the elephant in the room here is that the extra pounds didn’t exactly help to turn things around for Coutinho at Barcelona with just five more goals added to his record since returning from Bayern.
However, perhaps a second loan spell will be exactly what Coutinho needs to build the progress – and not just muscle – required to get his career back on track. He’s more than got the talent to do so.