Joining Barcelona is a dream come true, says Coutinho
strong>• May play for Barca against Celta Vigo on Thursday
Philippe Coutinho had his medical at Barcelona yesterday as his £145m transfer from Liverpool came to a completion.The Brazilian midfielder described his move – the second most expensive in football history – as a ‘dream come true’.
After the medical was completed, the 25-year-old signed his contract and was then officially presented to the public on the Nou Camp pitch at 12.45pm UK time.Coutinho made a brief appearance before the cameras wearing a Barcelona tracksuit on Sunday night after their routine 3-0 win over Levante in La Liga.
Addressing fans on Instagram, Coutinho said in English: ‘Hi Barca fans. I am here. It is a dream come true and I hope to see you tomorrow.’
Barcelona finally got their man after failing with three bids in the summer and the five-and-a-half-year deal Coutinho has signed contains a €400m (£354m) release clause.
Only Neymar’s £198m exit from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain dwarfs Coutinho’s transfer fee, while Barcelona now boast the second and third most expensive players ever after their £134m deal for Ousmane Dembele.It is also the biggest-ever fee for a player who did not have a release clause in their contract and represents a handsome profit for Liverpool, who signed Coutinho from Inter Milan for £8.5m in 2013.
The transfer also breaks the record for a player sold by an English club, with Barcelona paying around £106m up front and the remainder in add-ons.Barcelona had been prepared to pay £97.5m up front plus a further £35m in add-ons but Liverpool managed to squeeze more out of the Catalans after last week’s Nike website blunder that announced the Brazilian as a Barca player.
The add-ons will see Liverpool earn a further £17.7m once Coutinho has played 100 games, plus smaller payments of £4.4m for each of the first two Champions Leagues he qualifies for and the first two European titles he wins.Coutinho could make his debut on Thursday in the Spanish Cup against Celta Vigo. He will not be able to play for Barcelona in the Champions League so participation both in the Copa del Rey and La Liga will be important for him ahead of this year’s World Cup.
His arrival allows Andres Iniesta – the player he has been bought to replace in the long-term – to rest up for European competition. It also reunites him with Luis Suarez, who he formed a close friendship with on Merseyside.Coutinho leaves Anfield having scored 54 goals in 200 matches for Liverpool with Jurgen Klopp claiming the club did everything in their power to try and convince him to stay.
The German coach said in a statement: ‘It is with great reluctance that we — as a team and club — prepare to say farewell to a good friend, a wonderful person and a fantastic player in Philippe Coutinho.
“It is no secret that Philippe has wanted this move to happen since July, when Barcelona first made their interest known. Philippe was insistent with me, the owners and even his team-mates this was a move he was desperate to make happen. Despite that, we managed to keep the player here beyond the summer window, hoping that we would be able to persuade him to stay and be part of what we are looking to do.
“I can tell the Liverpool supporters that we, as a club, have done everything within our means to convince Philippe that remaining part of LFC was as attractive as moving to Spain, but he is 100 per cent certain his future — and that of his family — belongs at Barcelona. It is his dream and I am now convinced there is nothing left at our disposal to change his mind.”
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