Philippe Coutinho joins Barcelona for reported €160 million from Liverpool
Barcelona have captured Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho for a reported nine-figure fee. The Brazilian 25-year-old spent five years at Anfield, netting 54 goals in just over 200 games.
Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho became the world's third-most valuable soccer player on Saturday, after finally completing a reported €160 million ($192 million) move to La Liga giants Barcelona from Liverpool.
"Barcelona and Liverpool have reached an agreement for the transfer of Philippe Coutinho," Barcelona said in a statement. "The player will sign a contract for the rest of the season and five more years with a release clause of 400 million euros."
"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," Liverpool's German manager Jürgen Klopp told the club's official website. "It is no secret that Philippe has wanted this move to happen since July, when Barcelona first made their interest known."
Coutinho is expected to travel to Barcelona on Sunday and watch his new teammates host Levante that afternoon at the Camp Nou.
The Brazilian became a key figure at Liverpool almost immediately after joining the club in January 2013 from Inter Milan for around €13 million. The Brazilian netted 41 goals in 152 Premier League appearances for Liverpool, including seven in 14 matches this season — one for the big games, he was particularly prolific against other leading Premier League clubs.
His record in the Champions League was even more impressive, as he helped Liverpool qualify for the knockout stages after five goals and two assists in five group stage games.
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Where he slots into Barcelona's midfield — which includes the likes of captain Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic — remains to be seen. Coutinho's arrival will likely have the strongest impact on Iniesta, who, at 33, is in the closing stages of his career at the top level. It's also conceivable the Brazilian adopts a more attacking role, in place of his departed countryman Neymar.
The Catalan giants will also almost certainly part ways with at least one of their second-choice midfielders, such as Andre Gomes or Arda Turan.
Known for his long-range strikes, his presence will give Barcelona an extra attacking edge particularly against teams that like to sit back and defend.
At just 25, the playmaker's relative youth could also prove invaluable to Barca, whose three biggest star players — Lionel Messi, Iniesta, and Coutinho's former Liverpool teammate Luis Suarez — are all their thirties.
Second most expensive, for now
Coutinho's transfer technically makes him the second-most expensive player of all time behind compatriot Neymar, who signed from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain last summer for an eye-watering €222 million.
French striker Kylian Mbappe is currently at loan at PSG from Monaco, but is expected to complete a €180 million transfer this summer in a deal structured to ease the financial burden on French club this year.
Coutinho leapfrogs his Barcelona teammate Ousmane Dembele as the second most expensive player of all time. The French winger signed for the Catalan giants from Borussia Dortmund last summer for €105 million.
In the 2017-18 season, Jürgen Klopp desperately needed a defender. Liverpool found a way to supply him with one, spending a reported 75 million pounds (€84.2 million, $101.3 million) on Virgil van Dijk in January, making the Dutchman the most expensive defender of all time.
After Lukaku scoring 26 goals for Everton in the 2016-17 season, Manchester United shelled out a reported 75 million pounds (€84.8 million, $96.8 million) for the Belgian striker. He rewarded the Red Devils for their investment right away, scoring seven goals in his first seven Premier League games.
Scoring 36 goals in 35 league appearances, Gonzalo Higuain had a memorable 2015-2016 season at Napoli. Italy's record champions Juventus were eager to sign the Argentinian striker, paying €90 million ($99 million) for his services. After two seasons in Turin, he moved to AC Milan on loan, a deal which could become permanent in 2019.
Welsh superstar Gareth Bale became the world's most expensive player in 2013 after he transferred to Real Madrid for a fee of €100 million (then $132 million) after a six-year stint at Tottenham Hotspur. His move remains the most costly signing ever finalized by the Spanish club.
Three years after Bale's mega-move, Paul Pogba dethroned the Welshman as the world's most expensive player when he moved from Juventus to Manchester United for €105 million ($116.6 million). Pogba had come through the Red Devils' youth setup before leaving on a free transfer.
Dembele was one of Dortmund's most exciting and promising players, so much so that only after a year of playing in Germany, Barcelona came knocking for his services. The French forward transferred to Barca for €105 million ($123.9 million) with up to €42 million in bonus payments. The deal is the most expensive sale by a German club in football history.
Portugal's most capped player could appear on this list twice. His €94 million (then $132.5 million) move to Real Madrid shattered the world transfer record. After four Ballon d'Or, four Champions League and two La Liga titles with the Galacticos, he completed a €117 million ($136.9 million) move to Juventus in July.
Want to talk about profit? Liverpool purchased Philippe Coutinho from Inter Milan in January 2013 for €13 million ($17.3 million at the time). Five years later, the English club sold the Brazilian playmaker for a reported €120 million ($145.2 million) fee, which could increase to €160 million with bonuses. A pretty good turnover, right?
Before he was a World Cup winner with France, Mbappe was a highly coveted teenage talent. After a bursting onto the season with Monaco in 2016-17, the French forward moved to Paris Saint-Germain for a total package worth €180 million (€214 million) — a €45 million loan for 2017-18 followed by a €135 million transfer.
Who could afford to buy a player for €222 million ($262 million)? Qatari-owned French giants Paris Saint-Germain are one of the very few clubs in the globe capable of it. In the summer of 2017, Brazilian star Neymar received an offer he could just not refuse from PSG. The Brazilian left Lionel Messi's shadow in Barcelona for the French capital, becoming the world's most expensive footballer.
dm/msh (AP, AFP)
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