Attacking midfielder’s five-year stay at Anfield has officially come to an end…
Philippe Coutinho has been unveiled as a Barcelona player this morning after completing the formalities on his protracted big-money move from Liverpool.
The former Inter Milan schemer took part in a photo session and interview with BarcaTV on Sunday before officially signing his contract and participating in a public presentation from 11.30am GMT on Monday.
The general consensus, including at the BBC, puts the prospective cost of the deal at £142million, with £105m to be paid up front and the rest tied into performance-related add-ons.
Coutinho has reportedly signed a five-and-half year deal that includes a buyout clause of 400m euros (£355m).
Events moved quickly after the Merseysiders released a statement on Saturday afternoon confirming that they had reached an agreement with the Catalans and given the player permission to discuss personal terms and undergo a medical.
The statement was followed by a lengthy reaction piece from Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp, who revealed the club had reluctantly bowed to Coutinho’s wishes after accepting defeat in their attempts to convince him to remain at Anfield.
“It is with great reluctance,” commented the German via Liverpoolfc.com. “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 teammates 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.”
The former Borussia Dortmund boss went on to thank Coutinho for his ‘fantastic contribution’ to the club and to commend his ‘level of professionalism’ and performances this season.
It concluded with Klopp painting a positive picture of life at Anfield and underlining his belief in the talent that remains at his disposal and the continued commitment of the owners to help him invest and improve going forward.
Coutinho will be a hard man to replace however, with the 25-year-old having provided more assists, created more chances, taken more shots and completed more dribbles than any other Liverpool player during his five years on Merseyside.
His impact on the Premier League as a whole has also been considerable with no player in the top flight having scored more goals from outside the box (19) since his arrival in England.
Although he departs without any trophies to his name, the two time Liverpool Player of the Year leaves behind plenty of memorable moments and will be sorely missed by football aficionados across the country, regardless of their allegiances.
Coutinho, who will wear squad No.14 at the Camp Nou, will have to wait around three weeks for his Barca debut due to a thigh injury that forced him to miss Liverpool’s past two matches.
It is through slightly gritted teeth that we would like to wish Philippe all the best at Barcelona. It is always hard to accept the departure of your best players, particularly when it comes against your wishes and the player in question is in, or about to enter, their prime. Coutinho is a phenomenal player who can still get even better and it is almost certain that he will be a success in Spain. Financially it is a fantastic deal for Liverpool, regardless of how crazy the market has become, and, unlike a few years ago, we do have several other quality operators who can help fill the void. Unfortunately, none can match certain qualities that the little Brazilian possesses in abundance – when it comes to his guile and composure, few in world football can. But as Klopp has alluded to, no player will ever be bigger than the club and exciting times remain afoot at Anfield. With or without Coutinho, the future is bright and his exit shouldn’t be allowed to detract from, or alter, that.
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