Soccer – Coutinho aiming to improve

Playmaker Philippe Coutinho is determined to improve on what he admits was a below-par first full season with Barcelona. The 26-year-old Brazil midfielder became a huge signing for Barca in January 2018 when he joined from Liverpool, but he has since struggled to justify the price-tag which saw him switch to the Nou Camp. In the season just ended Coutinho scored five goals in 34 appearances in La Liga, as well as another six in 20 outings in the Champions League and Copa del Rey combined. That return and his struggles in maintaining a regular starting spot have seen Coutinho linked with a possible return to England, with Chelsea and Manchester United suggested as possible destinations. The South American, however, appears to want to stay put and try and persuade his critics that he can be a success with Barca. He told reporters while on international duty ahead of the Copa America: "I didn't have a great season, but you can only gain confidence through working hard, which is what I have done and what I will continue to do." The Blaugrana are 6/1 with bet365 to triumph in the Champions League next season.

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