Coutinho to Bayern Munich: How the new recruit from Barcelona compares to James Rodriguez

By Sports Desk August 19, 2019

Philippe Coutinho's loan move to Bayern Munich is complete and so begins the club's season-long assessment of whether to activate their option to buy him on a permanent basis.

The former Liverpool star has suffered a loss of form since making a big-money move to Barcelona in 2018 and will now have the chance to reinvent himself in the Bundesliga.

While Bayern have chased Leroy Sane throughout the transfer window, it appears Coutinho and Ivan Perisic - signed on loan from Inter - will be the players tasked with replacing Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery.

Niko Kovac must also fill the creative void left by James Rodriguez's return to Real Madrid and Coutinho, who is accustomed to playing centrally, could be anointed chief playmaker.

Here, we use Opta data to assess the merits of such a move, comparing the strengths and weaknesses of his game in comparison James.

 

Direct and dangerous

Shedding the more pedestrian James and deploying Coutinho in his place should give Bayern a greater degree of dynamism going forward.

The Brazilian causes problems with his willingness and ability to beat defenders, traits not exhibited quite so regularly by James.

Over the past two seasons, Coutinho attempted an average of 2.4 more dribbles per match and completed them with a success rate of 58.1 per cent.

James trusts less in his ability to go beyond markers, a dribble success rate of 44.2 per cent explaining his hesitance.

Yet, as the silky former Real Madrid man showcased at the Allianz Arena, his skills in other departments are sharper than most.

 

Bayern to get creative with solution to missing assists

James tallied 67 appearances across all competitions in his two seasons with Bayern.

Coutinho, in the same period, featured in 96 matches for Liverpool and Barcelona, clocking up over 2,000 more on-field minutes.

Despite the huge discrepancy, the pair each recorded 19 assists.

James, with his 89.2 per cent passing accuracy, created 3.5 chances per 90 minutes, during which he averaged 95 touches.

He outperformed Coutinho in both departments, the former Anfield favourite averaging 2.1 chances created from 82 touches per game.

Perisic will help bridge the gap, but it seems Robert Lewandowski might have to make peace with a less consistent supply line this season.

 

New firepower in front of goal

Where the champions can reasonably expect clear return on their investment is in goals scored.

Despite well-documented difficulties, Coutinho still did his part at Barca by notching 13 times in LaLiga. Those goals contributed to a solid combined two-season tally of 33, averaging out at 0.5 per 90 minutes.

James, the Golden Boot winner at the 2014 World Cup, managed seven in each of his Bundesliga campaigns.

He struck a total of 15 times in all for Bayern, having averaged 2.3 shots and 3.5 touches in the opposition box per match.

Coutinho's role is still to be determined and how his team-mates receive him remains to be seen, but an average of 3.3 shots and 4.6 touches in the opposition box over the course of 90 minutes portrays a player who will actively seek out his own opportunities.

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    Heading into the 1998 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts had what was deemed to be a tricky choice to make.

    Armed with the first overall pick, new team president Bill Polian had two quarterbacks to choose from: Peyton Manning – the son of a former NFL player who starred at the University of Tennessee – or Ryan Leaf, the big man with a strong arm who had decided to leave Washington State a year early to enter the league.

    History, of course, tells us the Colts made the correct call.

    Manning spent 14 seasons in Indianapolis, his hugely successful spell with the team including leading them to glory in Super Bowl XLI. His jersey number (18) was retired by the franchise, while there is a statue of him at the team's Lucas Oil Stadium.

    The San Diego Chargers, meanwhile, claimed Leaf at two. Their marriage did not run so smoothly – or last too long (three seasons, to be precise). He played just 25 games in a career that also included a stop in Dallas, throwing 14 touchdowns and 36 interceptions, and is regarded as one of – if not the – biggest draft busts.

    But what if Leaf had gone first instead? Let's start at the beginning…

     

    THE COLTS

    Having the first pick was the ideal building block for Polian, who was always going to hand new head coach Jim Mora a rookie QB to work with.

    Manning started from the outset with the Colts. There were early teething problems and he finished his debut season with a 3-13 record, throwing more interceptions (28) than touchdowns (26).

    However, the chance to learn on the job aided his development. The Colts went on to make the playoffs in the next two seasons and while 2001 was not so successful, a 6-10 campaign led to the arrival of Tony Dungy as head coach and, well, the rest is history.

    Whether Leaf would have developed in the same circumstances has to be considered doubtful with how his career panned out, but Indianapolis would have at least afforded him time in which to prove himself.

    They also had two rather useful pieces to help, as a running back by the name of Marshall Faulk and a wide receiver called Marvin Harrison were already on the roster.

    Had Leaf still flamed out in a similar timeframe with the Colts – it should be pointed out he missed his second season in San Diego through injury - they may well have used the 2001 draft to find a replacement. The Chargers did exactly that, using the 32nd pick on Drew Brees.

    THE CHARGERS

    Here is where an alternative NFL timeline gets seriously interesting.

    Manning as a Charger may not have blossomed in time to keep head coach Kevin Gilbride in a job – he was fired midway through the 1998 season, his second at the helm – but he may well have been the key to keeping the team in San Diego.

    Owner Dean Spanos moved the Chargers to Los Angeles after an unsuccessful attempt to get a new stadium built. A failure to secure tax-payer funding led to relocation in 2017.

    Surely, though, the presence of Manning could have made a difference. On-field success - perhaps even a Super Bowl triumph like the one the Colts enjoyed - could have led to them getting the backing required to stay put.

    Instead, L.A. is now home, though they have so far struggled in competition with the Rams to attract fans. There have even been rumours that the Chargers could move again soon, this time overseas to become the NFL's permanent residents in London.

    And what of Brees? Manning's presence would have made picking another QB a waste of draft resources. In 2001, the team to next take a player at the position after the Chargers were the Cowboys, meaning Drew could well have gone on to become a star in Dallas instead.

    THE 2004 DRAFT

    Of course, there is another Manning whose career would have changed if you take a sliding doors approach to the '98 draft.

    After life with Leaf failed to pan out, the Chargers had better luck with Brees before then moving on to Philip Rivers.

    However, they selected Peyton's younger brother Eli with the first pick in 2004, rather than Rivers, even though the former Ole Miss quarterback never had any intention of playing for them.

    Eli ended up in New York with the Giants in a trade that saw Rivers, who was drafted at four, head in the opposite direction. The next QB taken that year? Ben Roethlisberger, who went to the Pittsburgh Steelers at 11. The Buffalo Bills also used their first-round pick on the position, opting for J.P. Losman after moving up to 22.

    Yet had Peyton's place been in San Diego, several notable signal callers selected early in 2004 could have ended up in different locations to begin their pro careers.

  • Mourinho's ideal XIs: Which is better? Mourinho's ideal XIs: Which is better?

    Whatever your thoughts on modern-day Jose Mourinho, you cannot deny his legacy in football. For one thing, he wouldn't let you.

    Eight league titles across four different countries, domestic cups with Porto, Chelsea, Inter, Real Madrid and Manchester United, one Europa League, two Champions Leagues, the 2009-10 treble... Mourinho has a trophy cabinet that would be the envy of most coaches in the game.

    His teams have, of course, boasted their fair share of star names who have helped him on his way to greatness - even if he didn't get on with them all. In fact, last weekend, Marca published a series of ideal XIs from football figures across the world, including one selected by Mourinho himself from his best club sides.

    It's a pretty formidable line-up, but we at Stats Perform think we might have one to match. Each one contains a notable Opta fact for each player.

    See which team you think is best...

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    Petr Cech
    In Mourinho's first season in charge at Chelsea, Cech kept 24 clean sheets in the Premier League (2004-05), a record in the competition.

    Javier Zanetti
    Zanetti was the only outfield player to play every minute of Inter's 2009-10 Champions League-winning campaign under Mourinho.

    John Terry
    Chelsea's former captain has made more Premier League appearances under Mourinho (187) than any other player, scoring 15 goals.

    Ricardo Carvalho
    The centre-back played under Mourinho for three different sides (Porto, Chelsea and Real Madrid) – indeed, no player has made more Champions League appearances under the Portuguese than Carvalho (54).

    William Gallas
    Only John Terry (15) has netted more Premier League goals among defenders under Mourinho than Gallas (seven – level with Branislav Ivanovic).

    Claude Makelele
    In Chelsea's title-winning campaign of 2004-05, Makelele made 140 interceptions from the heart of Chelsea's midfield. Only Patrick Viera (156) made more among outfield players that season.

    Frank Lampard
    Lampard scored more Premier League goals under Mourinho (49) than any other player. In 2004-05 Lampard became the first Premier League midfielder to reach double figures for both goals (13) and assists (18) since Matt Le Tissier in 1994-95, whilst only Thierry Henry (39) registered more goal involvements than the Englishman (31).

    Eden Hazard
    During Mourinho's second tenure in charge at Chelsea, Hazard scored in more Premier League games than any other player for the club (24 – 28 goals).

    Mesut Ozil
    Ozil provided more assists (47) and created more chances (314) than any other player under Mourinho in LaLiga.

    Cristiano Ronaldo
    Ronaldo scored 153 LaLiga goals under Mourinho, 83 more than any other player for Madrid during this period. He also scored 12 Champions League goals in 2012-13: at that stage, only Lionel Messi (14 goals in 2011-12) had scored more goals in a single Champions League campaign.

    Didier Drogba
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    AN ALTERNATIVE BEST MOURINHO XI (according to Stats Perform):

    Iker Casillas
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    Cesar Azpilicueta
    Azpilicueta was Chelsea's Players' Player of the Year in Mourinho's first season back at the Blues in 2013-14.

    Sergio Ramos
    In Mourinho's three seasons at Real Madrid, only Guilherme Siqueira scored more LaLiga goals among defenders than Ramos (10).

    Marco Materazzi
    The treble-winning defender's only Champions League goal came in the 2008-09 season under Mourinho, against Anorthosis Famagusta in the group stages.

    Marcelo
    The Brazilian completed more dribbles in LaLiga than any other defender during Mourinho's stint as Real Madrid boss (154).

    Esteban Cambiasso
    Only captain Javier Zanetti (75) and keeper Julio Cesar (74) played more league games for Inter under Mourinho than Cambiasso (65).

    Paul Pogba
    No United player was involved in more Premier League goals than Pogba while Mourinho was in charge at Old Trafford (31 – 14 goals, 17 assists).

    Deco
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    Wesley Sneijder
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    Samuel Eto'o
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    Zlatan Ibrahimovic
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  • Coronavirus: Tottenham cut pay of 550 non-playing staff by 20 per cent Coronavirus: Tottenham cut pay of 550 non-playing staff by 20 per cent

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    Levy hoped players would follow suit, though Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) chief executive Gordon Taylor this week said he planned to block a blanket reduction on their salaries.

    "The club's operations have effectively ceased, some of our fans will have lost their jobs and most will be worried about their future," Levy said in a letter published on Spurs' website.

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    "We have seen some of the biggest clubs in the world such as Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Juventus take steps to reduce their costs. Yesterday [Monday], having already taken steps to reduce costs, we ourselves made the difficult decision – in order to protect jobs – to reduce the remuneration of all 550 non-playing directors and employees for April and May by 20 per cent utilising, where appropriate, the government's furlough scheme. We shall continue to review this position.

    "We hope the current discussions between the Premier League, PFA and LMA [League Managers Association] will result in players and coaches doing their bit for the football eco system.

    "I have no doubt we will get through this crisis but life will take some time to get back to normal. I hope we will never take for granted so many basic things such as getting off the train at Seven Sisters, walking along Tottenham High Road, entering our stadium with our family and friends, and buying a beer and pie ahead of watching Spurs play at home.

    "Many families will have lost loved ones, many businesses will have been destroyed, millions of jobs lost and many clubs whether big or small may struggle to exist. It is incumbent on me as chairman to ensure we do everything we can to protect our employees, our fans, our partners, our club for future generations – and equally important – our wider community where we have such an immense sense of responsibility.

    "I wish everyone good health, a speedy return to normal life and watching Spurs at home in front of our fans. Stay safe."

    Star striker Harry Kane at the weekend refused to rule out the possibility of leaving Tottenham if the team does not show signs of matching his ambition to win trophies.

    The England captain has consequently been linked with a move to Premier League rivals Manchester City and Manchester United, as well as Real Madrid.

    Levy believes people discussing such stories need to "wake up" to the enormity of the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on clubs.

    He said: "As recently as 18 March I said: 'We shall all need to work together to ensure the impact of this crisis does not undermine the future stability of the club.'

    "The decision by governments around the world to effectively close down economies with unheard of peacetime impacts on civil liberties in order to minimise the terrible effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is the right one to protect human lives.

    "The crushing devastation on industries in many countries, the inter-dependence of international trade and travel in every aspect of our daily life is only now beginning to be felt. Every person on this planet will be affected and in my lifetime I cannot think of something so impactful.

    "When I read or hear stories about player transfers this summer like nothing has happened, people need to wake up to the enormity of what is happening around us. With over 786,000 infected, nearly 38,000 deaths and large segments of the world in lockdown we need to realise that football cannot operate in a bubble.

    "We may be the eighth largest club in the world by revenue according to the Deloitte survey but all that historical data is totally irrelevant as this virus has no boundaries."

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