sport news Lionel Messi stuck up for Philippe Coutinho at Barcelona - now he has to repay ...

Philippe Coutinho's time at Barcelona may finally have come, almost two years after he joined from Liverpool as the Catalan club's most expensive ever player.

There are three reasons for the wind-change in his favour:

The Champions League has reminded everyone what he is capable of The club's economic crisis means that new coach Ronald Koeman has to make expensive signings such as Coutinho's work And those supporters who whistled him the last time he was at the club will not be in the stadium as he makes his return. 

Philippe Coutinho returned to Barcelona having won the Champions League with Bayern

Philippe Coutinho returned to Barcelona having won the Champions League with Bayern

He cut short his time off to hit the ground running and it seems his opportunity has arrived

He cut short his time off to hit the ground running and it seems his opportunity has arrived

Watching him contribute to Bayern Munich's Treble served as a reminder of what attracted Barcelona to him when they signed him for a deal totalling £145million in 2018.

His role in Bayern's clean sweep probably shouldn't be exaggerated. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said: 'With his creativity and excellent technical ability he has helped drive the team's play in a year when we have won the Treble.' But the German team had not seen enough to want to negotiate buying him permanently.

And it's also true that his role in the Champions League success was as a substitute, enjoying, in particular, the disaster minutes against Barcelona when they just wanted the final whistle to be blown. But he still had to take advantage of the opportunity and he certainly did that with two goals against his parent club.

And the lasting image is of him celebrating in Lisbon, smiling broadly on the tickertape-strewn pitch with his hands on the European Cup.

He walks back into the Barcelona dressing room a lot taller than if he had returned from Bayern without a medal.

Koeman has made all the right noises about his return. He wants to use him and with the squad chronically top-heavy (eight players for three attacking berths) he sees an opening in midfield.

Barcelona cannot make big signings this summer. Lost in the haze of them keeping Messi has been their dire financial predicament. Even Koeman's fairly modest requests for Georginio Wijnaldum and Memphis Depay depend on players being shifted out for transfer fees first.

Coutinho joined the club for £145million but became out of favour and failed to make impact

Coutinho joined the club for £145million but became out of favour and failed to make impact

New boss Ronald Koeman is determined to wipe the slate clean and use Coutinho effectively

New boss Ronald Koeman is determined to wipe the slate clean and use Coutinho effectively

Part of Koeman's remit is to do something about that embarrassing €400m (£367m) trio of Coutinho, Ousmane

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