Often linked to Paris Saint-Germain throughout his career, Philippe Coutinho is a player who would undoubtedly fit in both on and off the pitch at the capital club. Every club in Europe would like the Brazilian’s services but do PSG already have a player in their squad that is similar if not better? For this comparison, we examine Coutinho and Julian Draxler during their time with FC Barcelona and PSG respectively.
Draxler arrived at PSG in January 2017 for a reported €40 million. He wanted to join the summer before but his prior club, VfL Wolfsburg, prevented the move. The attacking midfielder also captained the Germany squad that won the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2017.
When Draxler officially signed for PSG, he started at the leftwing position and excelled, scoring in the first leg of PSG’s memorable 4-0 win over Barcelona and another goal in the 2017 Coupe de la Ligue Final against AS Monaco. Later that summer, Neymar Jr. and Kylian Mbappé would arrive and many though that his bright start in Paris would soon take a backseat to the flash of those two star players. However, since their arrival, Draxler has proved his value by being able to play in numerous positions across the pitch. Whether it be as a central midfielder, left midfielder, or attacking midfielder, the German has been PSG’s Swiss Army knife. In all competitions for les Rouge et Bleu, Draxler has scored 20 goals in 108 games and added 24 assists as well.
Does Draxler fit his transfer bill? I’d say yes. He has brought a level of consistency to this squad that easily surpasses the €40 million that PSG paid for him. The main question with Draxler is will he ever be great? For PSG, he’s been good, sometimes very good, but will he ever reach greatness like Toni Kroos or Thomas Müller? I don’t know, but he seems very close.
In January 2018, Liverpool FC sold Coutinho to Barcelona for an astonishing €160 million. Since arriving, Coutinho has struggled with injury and hasn’t been able to maintain a consistent level of performance. During his time with the Catalan club, Coutinho has recorded 20 goals in 66 total appearances—not terrible, but also not setting the world on fire consider his transfer fee. The Brazilian has even admitted to his poor form:
In the last few weeks, months even, I’ve not been playing well but I still want to improve.—Coutinho speaking to Movista+ via SkySports
Despite all of that, Coutinho turned in a good performance at the FIFA World Cup, accounting for 2 goals in 5 games for Brazil. His scoring ability was a big reason that Brazil went to the quarter-finals and gave Belgium all they could handle.
As great as these two players are, there can only be one winner. Coutinho might be better on paper and his transfer fee would certainly lead you in his direction, but Draxler has lived up to his expectations and benefitted PSG more than Coutinho has with Barcelona. Coutinho hasn’t been able to find consistent form due to injury and a lot of competition in the squad, while Draxler has been able to play any role that PSG needed at a consistent level. He may not reach greatness, but he’s more than good enough for Paris.