'Shy' Coutinho urged to step out of Messi's shadow by Barcelona icon Rivaldo

Philippe Coutinho Barcelona 2018-19Getty Images

Philippe Coutinho has been urged to step out of the shadow cast by Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez at Barcelona, with Rivaldo claiming a fellow Brazilian has been too “shy” at Camp Nou.

The 27-year-old became the latest in a long line of South American stars to make their way to Catalunya in the winter transfer window of 2018.

Much was expected of him in La Liga following a productive spell in the Premier League with Liverpool.

Coutinho has, however, struggled to live up to those expectations, with talk of a possible return to England having been sparked.

Former Barcelona star Rivaldo believes it is too early to give up on the talented playmaker, but he does concede that more is required from a player over-thinking his role in a star-studded squad.

“Some players, when they come to Barca, they’re a bit worried about the pressure, and are struck by it all,” Rivaldo told reporters of Coutinho at a Betfair event.

“They don’t play at their best level from their previous club. And I think that’s happened a bit with Coutinho.

“He’s felt a bit shy, not the same as with Liverpool. And it doesn’t matter if you’re playing with someone called Messi or Suarez, you have to show what you can give.

“I came from Deportivo, who weren’t one of the biggest clubs in Spain like Barcelona , so I had to show personality.

“I did really well at Deportivo and I carried on doing at Barcelona what I did at Deportivo. I didn’t feel shy. I wanted to do something different.

“When I came, Ronaldo Fenomono had gone to Inter and everyone wanted to make the comparison, but I didn’t want the comparison.

“I didn’t want the fans to look at me like Ronaldo, as if I was a copy. I wanted to be my own type and do something different.”

Philippe Coutinho Brazil 2019

Rivaldo is looking for Coutinho to be more confident at Barcelona, as he is when charged with the task of being a leader for Brazil.

The 1999 Ballon d’Or winner added: “You saw the match when he played here against Man United [in the Champions League]. I saw a great change there.

“He has got the potential to become a fantastic football player, but it’s about him moving swiftly and rapidly now.

“He’s got to be more decisive on the pitch, not wait on Messi or Suarez. He has got to go for it and show what he’s capable of.

“And, right now, he’s away with Brazil at the Copa America, where they don’t have Neymar. He’s got to take responsibility, so everyone talks about Coutinho.

“This is going to be a great opportunity for him to get confidence and come back to Barcelona with confidence.”

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