It’s official. Officially official. Philippe Coutinho is no longer a Liverpool player after five years across four and two half-seasons at the Premier League club. Barcelona will pay a fee of €160M, with €120M guaranteed and a further €40M in achievable add-ons, to secure his services.
The 25-year-old Brazilian arrived at Anfield from Inter Milan as a cast-off and was given the chance to claim a starring role by Brendan Rodgers as a wide attacking midfielder and winger. Under Jürgen Klopp, Coutinho began to take on an increasingly deeper midfield role.
It is that role he will be expected to fill at Barcelona as the replacement for Andres Iniesta, who will remain the Champions League starter for the rest of the season—as Coutinho will be ineligible in that competition—while Coutinho takes league and domestic cup duties.
In his time at Liverpool, Coutinho made 201 appearances, scoring 54 goals and 46 assists in all competitions. He failed to lift silverware while at the club, though Liverpool did come close on a handful of occasions, and while few will question his desire to join Barcelona, many will question his methods.
Handing in a transfer request, going on strike, having his representatives smear Jürgen Klopp in the press. All happened last summer and were timed to do maximum damage—ahead of the season opener and Liverpool’s Champions League playoff.
Then, as January neared, there was again talk of strikes and the player’s determination never to again play for Liverpool. Klopp, given full control in the matter, decided he had had enough and sanctioned Coutinho’s sale at a time that makes little sense for either club.
Liverpool could have used him in their top four challenge and the Champions League this season, while Barcelona don’t much need him this season and could have paid less for him in the summer. Coutinho, though, was desperate to move and to move this month.
And so now he has. As understandable as it might be for a South American star to make the switch to Barcelona, after the way Coutinho sought to get his deal done it will be hard for many Liverpool fans to wish him the best in his future endeavours.