Saturday 3 August, 1.00pm
Phillipe Coutinho needs to make the right choice when it comes to picking his next club, and the best choice isn't always the obvious one, says Betfair Ambassador Dimitar Berbatov.
"He was producing great football with these players under a great manager, but he probably wanted to play with Messi and Suarez, Barcelona is Barcelona."
Coutinho has a big choice to make
Philippe Coutinho is in a difficult position at the moment, he was doing so well at Liverpool, he was unbelievable and he got a dream move to Barcelona, which he really pushed for. Although I think he did well there, I don't think Barcelona gave him enough time to show what he can really do and in the end he chose to go to Bayern Munich to play a bit more, but overall he hasn't been producing his best football since his time at Liverpool.
It is sad to see him in this situation, but it happens all the time and when you move from one club to another and can't show the form that you had previously. You have to ask how does he come back from it and what has caused this.
He is the same player, he has been playing with really talented players, some of them even better than the ones he played with at Liverpool and it hasn't worked out. I look back at it and if you played for a big club like Liverpool, was it really necessary to move to Barcelona?
He was producing great football with these players under a great manager, but he probably wanted to play with Messi and Suarez, Barcelona is Barcelona.
I was hoping that he would do well with Bayern Munich but they aren't going to keep him, now he is going to go somewhere else and hopefully he can produce the form that he showed at Liverpool, even if that means taking a step back to play regularly and recapture his form and take two steps forward. That will be key, we are all human beings and he knows very well that at Barcelona and Bayern Munich he wasn't good enough. It will be heavy on his mind and to have an extension rejected by Munich will be tough for him to accept, now he needs to go to a club where the manager will trust him and he will play regularly.
No point in United signing him
There have been a lot of Premier League clubs linked with him, Arsenal, Chelsea, Newcastle and even Manchester United, but sometimes the obvious choice isn't always the correct one.
Everyone thought he would do great when he moved to Barcelona but it didn't work out, sometimes you need to step back to go forwards, he will go to a good team there is no question about that, but he needs the trust of a manager to believe in him and make him the main man so that he can play calm and be free to do what he does.
Other people will see him linked with a move to United and they will point out his connections with Liverpool and how he would never be forgiven if he switched to Old Trafford, but honestly, United don't need him right now. Bruno Fernandes is a very similar player; he really hit the ground running and looks to be a very promising signing so I don't think there would be any point in United signing him. Pogba is coming back, Fernandes is there, McTominay is producing great football as well, they have enough quality there so signing Coutinho would be pointless.
David Luiz looks to be on his way
It looks like David Luiz is set to leave the Premier League and many people are asking if this is a good decision from Arsenal, to let an experienced defender go. If they already have a replacement for him lined up then why not, in the end it comes down to if the player wants to stay and if the manager wants him. Mikel Arteta will know what he's doing, he has worked under Guardiola and he wants to replicate that style of football, so maybe he is looking at getting players in that can produce that. There's no point keeping a footballer if they don't want to be at a club.
During his career, people haven't really taken Luiz seriously because he tended to make a few mistakes that led to goals, also he switched teams quite a lot, I remember he went to Chelsea, then to PSG, then returned to Chelsea and finally went to Arsenal. That inconsistency and constantly switching teams isn't good for a player, but that hasn't taken away the good qualities that he has and he has also been a big player for his national team as well. If he stays at Arsenal, he will still do a big job because he does have that composure to pass it forward. In the end it comes down to him and Arteta.
Champions League Final
Saturday would have been the Champions League final and many people will be looking back at the great finals over the years, I have been a part of Champions League finals and they are special. I remember in 2009 with Manchester United, it was a great feeling to be in the Champions League final, it was at a great place in Rome and there was a lot of excitement, some nerves as well because we were playing Barcelona, and Barca is Barca, especially back then, they had Messi, Xavi, Iniesta and so many more great names.
I remember feeling proud as well because we were in the game that every footballer dreams of playing, so it was a great feeling all around. In the end though, like always only one team can win, and it wasn't us, which was disappointing. Everything else apart from the result, was great and exciting, many players wish to reach that point and many players don't get to fulfill their wishes.
That team that we faced in the final in 2009, and then two years later, was the greatest team I have ever come up against and for me that is the team that represents how football should be played.
Of course, they had a genius at the heart of that team in Messi but he was also surrounded by great players as well who were putting the hard work in and making Messi look even better, like Xavi and Iniesta. They understood each other so well, the balance of the team was great and they were an unbelievable team.
In Champions League finals I have come up against two of the best players in the world, I played against Zidane for Leverkusen and then against Messi with United, it was an unbelievable experience but I would have preferred it if they were just spectators and only came to say 'hi'.
Looking at Zidane in Glasgow and Messi in Rome, I think it was a different game, different time and different styles of players.
Both players were geniuses. Messi still is, but time moved on from 2002 to 2009, football was a bit different, I was lucky to be a part of both games against great players, I didn't feel too lucky though because I lost against them.
In 2011, I didn't play at Wembley, it was a decision of the coach to leave me and other players out for that game. It was disappointing of course, I can speak only for myself, but I felt that I was doing well, I was the league's top scorer and I had so much confidence, I could have scored from anywhere on the pitch, from that point of view it was disappointing to not be a part of that game.
There was nothing I could do, I didn't expect to be left out and because of it I felt like I couldn't help my team in anyway which was really disappointing, I was in good shape. If you ask my dad or my friends they will say of course I would have made a difference if I was in the team, but Barcelona were so good at that moment in time that I don't think it would have made much difference, but we will never know.
Looking at this year's Champions League, I am now leaning more towards Bayern Munich to win it, if it goes ahead.
Maybe because I'm watching a lot of Bundesliga, but they always impress with quality football and they have some great players.
The way they dismantled Chelsea in that last match was unbelievable, they did it with such ease. I also like the look of Atletico Madrid, they produce great quality football as well. I'm not sure how the stoppage will affect everybody but Bayern Munich may have a slight advantage because they are playing football now and they are getting their match sharpness back, I wouldn't be surprised if they are now the favourites.
I was surprised to see how far Atalanta have come, I would like to see them continue their fairy tale, the underdog story is always a good one. It reminds me of my time in the Champions League with Leverkusen when we made it to the final, nobody paid attention to us, every game was supposed to be our last in the competition, then we reached the final. Atalanta are doing the same thing now and that I why I want to see them continue on their path, it will be tough and difficult but I think they will surprise a few people. Nobody is taking them seriously and that is the biggest weapon they have.
Saturday 3 August, 1.00pm