The former Sunderland striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, insisted signing the 29-year-old “luxury player” in January would be a “gamble”.
According to SPORT (cited by Sport Witness on 9 November), Barcelona are “expecting” and waiting for a bid from Newcastle for Coutinho in January and will accept a loan proposal that includes a mandatory purchase option.
The midfielder could become Eddie Howe’s first signing at St James’ Park.
Coutinho has started just four league matches for cash-strapped Barcelona this season after only managing eight league starts last term following a serious knee injury.
As such, Phillips insisted Newcastle could draft in the former Liverpool star next summer in order to build up his fitness with a pre-season regime.
“He’s a good player, but I think you’d have to get others in to save Newcastle from relegation,” he told Football Insider‘s Dylan Childs.
“He would help with his impact, but he’s shown that he is
a luxury player. He might have two good games and then disappear for a while.
“At this stage of the season, and with how it’s shaping
up for Newcastle – they should be looking at players who can produce week-in,
“They need people who will run through brick walls, and
Coutinho hasn’t really played enough football to guarantee that.
“There’s no doubt he’s got quality, but it would be a
gamble to bring him in during the January window.
“Maybe if they survive, they can get him in and give him a full pre-season to get him ready.”