It had been a week in which Philippe Coutinho was voted one of the greatest Barcelona flops of the entire 21st century, but at least Paul Merson kept his faith. “This will be a good game for Philippe Coutinho and I expect him to dominate this game,” Merson said ahead of a visit to Bournemouth, a club back in the Premier League but facing considerable uncertainty after an unexpectedly passive summer transfer. . window. It had all left an obviously frustrated Scott Parker who openly stated that Bournemouth were weaker now than when they were promoted three months ago.
Villa’s more prolific transfer activity has included the permanent addition of Barcelona’s Coutinho, a player valued well north of £100million in 2018.
It was therefore a surprise that Bournemouth not only marked their return to the Premier League with Jefferson Lerma’s goal within two minutes, but would absorb all of Villa’s subsequent possession so easily.
It also led to uneasy questions about Villa’s recent off-field strategy. The biggest money this summer has been spent on a central defender – Diego Carlos – who, despite being one of the players dragged out of position for Lerma’s goal, appears to be a strong and influential asset.
Whether the combined investment in Coutinho this year and Danny Ings last summer will deliver long-term value feels much less uncertain. Both are now over 30 and have the distinct looks of players whose peak years are firmly in the rearview mirror. Ings finished last season with just seven league goals after 34 in two seasons with Southampton and rarely looked menacing here.