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The Prodigal Son Returns to Rio: Coutinho Returns to Vasco 

It’s official: Philippe Coutinho is back at Vasco da Gama. 

After weeks of speculation and negotiations, on July 10, 2024, Rio de Janeiro-based club Vasco da Gama announced the acquisition of the former Brazilian international on a loan deal. 

Granada, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons (Julia Engel)

The deal, which has been in the works for the past few weeks, was held up due to Vasco having to overcome several bureaucratic hurdles, which involved sealing the deal with Aston Villa, Coutinho’s current club, and negotiations with the player himself, who will be receiving a massive pay cut of about 70% of his current salary.

Philippe Coutinho’s return to Rio de Janeiro is a monumental moment not just for Vasco but for Coutinho himself.

 This full-circle moment in his career, which sees him return to the club where his professional career started back in 2009, is a chance for Coutinho to revive his career. 

Own work, created with Inkscape., CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Ever since joining Aston Villa back in 2022, Coutinho has struggled to find his form and, as a result of back-to-back disappointing seasons, the Brazilian midfielder slowly began to sink out of the public eye. 

The result of this was Coutinho losing his spot on the Brazilian national team and even losing his spot at Aston Villa, so much so that he spent his last season away on loan at Qatari side Al Duhail.

 At Al Duhail, Coutinho also failed to impress, scoring only seven goals and giving three assists in 22 games.

For Vasco, Coutinho’s return is historic. 

Even though his last few seasons have not been the greatest, his extensive resume brings with it weight that not many other players have the honor of having. 

Throughout his career, Coutinho has played for the world’s biggest clubs, such as Liverpool and Barcelona, and he even went as far as to win a Champions League with German side Bayern Munich. 

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The skillful midfielder will come to a team that is in a similar situation as him, a team that is trying to return to its glory days after a troubled few years.

Vasco da Gama are a huge Brazilian club, with a beautiful history and passionate fans, but the last decade and a half has not been kind to the “Gigante da Colina.” 

Due to horrible internal care, the institution Vasco da Gama has been in a horrific state for many years, and the results of that have been very visible on the field. 

The last decade has seen Vasco be relegated over and over, and in instances, the team from Rio would even go to the second division and stay there for over a year before being able to secure promotion again. 

These disastrous years resulted in Vasco deciding to change its business model and become a S.A.F. 

This means that instead of having a president who is voted in every few years, the team would have an owner, similar to how teams operate in America. 

Club de Regatas Vasco da Gama, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

While having an owner can be tricky in that if you get a bad owner, you are stuck with a bad owner, the upside is whoever owns your team won’t be reckless financially just to get votes and win an election.

 Vasco isn’t the only S.A.F. in Brazil, with city rivals Botafogo also having an owner, and other teams throughout Brazil also adapting to the new club ownership model. 

Club de Regatas Vasco da Gama, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Vasco’s journey since becoming a S.A.F. has been full of ups and downs, and out of all the S.A.F.s in Brazil, theirs is far from the best. But the bright side for the “Gigante da Colina” is they haven’t been relegated in two years, which for Vasco is something to be happy about.

With all this said, Vasco’s future is bright.

 The team being built is competitive, with French star Payet, Argentinian striker Vegetti, and now Philippe Coutinho. The team from Rio de Janeiro is sure to stir up some trouble in the Brazilian Championship. 

Дмитрий Садовников for soccer.ru, CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons

Vasco’s next game will be on July 17 against Atlético Goianiense and Coutinho is alreadu expcted to be eligible to play in that game.

 Coutinho’s presence in the Brazilian league is sure to greatly elevate the overall quality of a league that is already full of so many superstars. 

With names like Thiago Almada, Nicolas de la Cruz, Hulk, Pedro, and more, the 2024 edition of the Brasileirão is without a doubt something every fan of the sport should keep an eye out for. 

And now, with Coutinho joining Vasco, the fans of the beautiful game just got another super interesting storyline to follow and keep up with.

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Nathan Azevedo Espindula
Nathan Azevedo Espindula, Editor and Chief
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