Barcelona lose to Levante in Copa del Rey

Getty Images

Getty Images

Barcelona's Denis Suarez was one of three players thrown on by Ernesto Valverde and the midfielder, linked with a move away from the club this month, earned the penalty which Coutinho netted to boost the chances of turning the tie around next week.

The visitors opted to rest Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Marc-Andre Ter Stegen for the first leg.

The defending champions were heading for a convincing defeat following early goals from Erick Cabaco and Borja Mayoral, who is on loan from Barca's rivals Real Madrid.

"But he (Coutinho) is a player which we consider as a starter and will be very important for us in the remainder of the season, for sure", he said.

Sevilla will take a commanding lead into the second leg on home soil after they defeated Athletic Bilbao 3-1 at San Mames.

Barcelona assistant manager Jon Aspiazu spoke of Philippe Coutinho's current form, suggesting that Ousmane Dembele is now outperforming his teammate. "The team deserved that, above all for the second half".

"When [Ousmane] Dembele wasn't playing, everyone was asking me about him", Valverde responded when asked if Coutinho's unhappy with his lack of minutes at the moment.

Meanwhile, Valverde's men return to their La Liga title defence this weekend when they host Eibar at the Camp Nou on Sunday.

Catalunya Radio have reported that club representative Andre Cury - who played a key role in Barca's signing of Neymar from Santos in 2013 - has met with Neymar and his team as interest around a potential return for a player who left in 2017 gathers pace.

"This is a period of the season when fixtures come thick and fast and we will need to make rotations, I am aware of this and so are the players".

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