Bayern Munich's Philippe Coutinho
Philippe Coutinho's (right) future with Bayern Munich after the loan phase is not clear as Barcelona want to offload him to chase the likes of Neymar. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Brazilian Philippe Coutinho’s return to action will be further put on hold even if the German Bundesliga makes its scheduled start on May 9.

The star’s club Bayern Munich has announced that the gifted playmaker has undergone a surgery on his ankle that would possibly sideline him for at least two weeks after the procedure. According to the club’s statement, the surgery removed loose fragments in Coutinho’s right ankle.

Coutinho, who has been on a season-long loan at Bayern from FC Barcelona, has so far contributed nine goals and eight assists in 32 appearances. He is expected to begin his recovery programme in a fortnight.

Despite the surgery, the 27-year-old may not miss any matches as he will have enough time for recuperation till the Bundesliga’s intended start in the first half of May. Last week, the German Football League (DFL) had announced that the top two tiers of the competition are on course for a re-start, depending on a nod from the government.

Angela Merkel’s government has prohibited mass gatherings of any sort till the end of August at least, but DFL chief executive Christian Seifert has insisted the governing body is working towards playing the remainder of the matches behind closed doors.

In the meantime, Coutinho’s future at Bayern is not too clear beyond this season with the Bavarians unlikely to exercise their €80 million (Dhs 320 million) purchase option on the Brazilian. Barca are only too keen to offload the Brazilian this summer and raise funds to recruit top targets such as Neymar Junior and Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez.

Coutinho, a former Liverpool player, has expressed his willingness to move back to the English Premier League with Chelsea one of the clubs showing encouraging signs to obtain his services.

Meanwhile, Chelsea have exercised an option to entend French striker Olivier Giroud’s contract until 2021. The 33-year-old Giroud’s deal was set to expire at the end of this season, and Inter Milan and Lazio had both shown interest in signing the French striker. The Blues have now moved to protect themselves against losing Giroud on a free transfer while securing his services for another season.