Coutinho made his full debut for last weekend against Alaves, in which his side won 2-1.

Last night, Coutinho came on as a substitute for Aleix Vidal in the 58th minute in his side’s 1-0 victory over Valencia in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final.

A Luis Suarez header proved to be the difference between the two sides as he met an inch-perfect cross from Messi.

And Valverde believes Coutinho gives his side more options and reckons his versatility is a strength.

“With Leo [Messi] playing in the middle, the general idea is for him to play on one of the sides,” he said. 

“He can play on the left or the right. 

“He was on the right at first and then moved to the left after Andrés [Iniesta] came off.”

Despite sneaking an advantage from the first leg, Suarez believes the tie is still firmly in the balance.

He said: “We have a slight lead but there are still 90 minutes to play.

“Valencia are always strong at home and especially in a cup semi-final.”

“They hardly created any danger against us. That’s important. It means they respect us. 

“We created chances despite the lack of space. 

“We were making chances even if they weren’t going in.”

The Catalan giants, who are 11 points clear at the top of the table, travel to face Espanyol next (2.15pm).

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