Philippe Coutinho was meant to be a lot of things when he signed for Barcelona just over 12 months ago.
Andres Iniesta’s heir, a cure for the post-Neymar blues and the poster boy in Catalonia for years to come.
It’s fairly safe to say none of those have materialised.
Coutinho looks burdened by his record-breaking £143m prize tag and bereft of all confidence, scoring just once since the end of January and providing no assists.
And ESPN may have discovered a quirky reason why the Brazilian is in such bother.
Many of the Barca players reside in the lavish area of Castelldefels, a pretty town sandwiched between the sea and the mountains just outside the city.
Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and many more have settled down there, with the latter helping his former Liverpool team-mate source a house on the same road before he had even arrived.
But locals believe there is something eerie about the property which might point towards not only Coutinho’s miserable spell, but the misfortune of other Barca players before him.
Cesc Fabregas bought the house just months before being sold to Chelsea in 2014, whilst the horribly injury-ravaged Thomas Vermaelen occupied it afterwards.
It didn’t stop there.
Andre Gomes, generally regarded as a laughing stock at the Camp Nou, moved in after his €40m switch from Valencia and duly saw his confidence hit rock bottom following a number of atrocious performances.
Coutinho’s tenancy, therefore, makes it a quartet of Barca players in that very same ‘cursed’ house who have all failed to find their feet.
Time is still on the 26-year-old’s side, but he is beginning to look increasingly like a luxury fish out of water.
A change of tactics by Ernesto Valverde earlier this season meant one of his Fab Four – Messi, Suarez, Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele – had to be sacrificed for the greater good of the team.
Coutinho has been the one to miss out more than most – and he’s showing no evidence of the temperament required to change that.
With Man United and PSG waiting in the wings, a change of scenery could help Coutinho escape his haunted mansion and nightmare Barca spell.
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