Philippe Coutinho has been dealt a blow early in his Bayern Munich career – because the coach refuses to play him alongside one of their other key men.
Head coach Niko Kovac claims that he will not play the former Liverpool star at the same time as Thomas Muller.
Coutinho returned to fitness during the week to play 83 minutes in Bayern’s 3-0 win over Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League.
He was replaced by Muller in the closing stages in a substitution which could become a common theme this season.
Muller scored in stoppage time, but despite impressive performances by both, Kovac says that he will not field his two attacking midfielders in the same game.
“Muller and Coutinho together in the 10 role would be too attacking. We need a good balance,” Kovac said.
“Never say never, but right now I’d lower the probability.”
Bayern have made an unbeaten start to their Bundesliga campaign and take on Koln this weekend.
Coutinho has made three appearances in the league, but has only made one start and has failed to score or assist.
The Brazilian recently claimed that he was delighted with the welcome he received since arriving in the Bundesliga.
He said: “The fans were incredibly nice to me, it’s great to feel the positive energy of them very close.
“Many children are always there, I see the radiance in their eyes and that makes me happy.
“I wrote a lot of autographs that day, I hope I did not forget anyone. To have this contact regularly is nice.”
The role of fellow Portuguese speaker Thiago Alcantara has also been important to Coutinho early on.
“He helped a lot in the first few days, especially in terms of communication,” Coutinho said. “German is damn difficult! But I’ve decided to learn a bit. Also a few employees speak Portuguese, that’s what made it easy.”