The world of high-profile transfers between football clubs is full of smoke and mirrors. Both clubs wish to spin the transfer in a certain way, with each wanting to come out as the clear winners of the deal. And then you add in such things as different currencies, fluctuating exchange rates (‘sup, Brexit), the payout structure, etc, and the whole business becomes quite complicated.
The transfer of Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool to Barcelona was no different in its degree of complexity and uncertainty. Most sources agree that there was a base fee of £105 million, with add-ons taking the fee up to a potential £142 million if all the clauses were met. And this will be complicated even further, with Phil apparently on his way to Bayern Munich on loan.
When Liverpool dumped Barca out of the Champions League in dramatic fashion last year, there were reports that the Reds cost themselves ~£4.5 million that they would have received if Barcelona had won the tournament. Even if these reports were true (hint: they weren’t), Liverpool still very much came out on top, especially after considering the prize money for playing in and winning both the European Cup and Super Cup.
As James Pearce reported for The Echo at the time:
However, the ECHO understands that a clause in fact stated that 5million Euros (£4.3million) would be paid to the Reds if Ernesto Valverde’s side reached the quarter-finals of the competition this season.
With Barca having achieved that before being sensationally dumped out, Liverpool have still secured the hefty windfall.
The deal was reportedly structured to pay Liverpool an additional £4.5 million for every 25 games he played for Barcelona, up to 100 appearances. The Brazilian played 76 total appearances, thereby triggering three of the four add-ons in this category, at minimum. It seems unlikely that a loan deal would count under his total appearances clause (though I certainly wouldn’t put it past Michael Edwards at this point).
Moreover, there were additional Champions League performance clauses put into the deal, including the aforementioned clause wherein Barca had to pay Liverpool for the honor of being eliminated after reaching the quarterfinal round. The same reports that stated Barcelona only had to pay if they won the final also stated that the same applies for this upcoming season. If they were similarly misinformed (i.e. they must pay out if they reach the quarterfinals, not winning the whole competition), then Liverpool might still be in line for that add-on, depending on the exact language of the contract.
As I said, there are a lot of smoke and mirrors here. As such, this article is purely speculative, and an attempt to suss out how Coutinho’s loan move to the other European Giants in Red could impact the last couple of outstanding payments from Barcelona to Merseyside.
If we are looking at a ~£9 million in losses from these two remaining, un-triggered, clauses, Liverpool still came out far better in the long run. The Reds were able to reinvest that ~£133 million into the likes of Alisson Becker and Fabinho, as well as giving Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah new contracts. In doing so, they’ve managed to build one of the best and most balanced sides in Europe, one that’s capable of lifting the biggest trophies.
This success, of course, has created a financial windfall of its own. From qualifying for and winning the Champions League and Super Cup, Liverpool received €23.5 million (~£21.5 million). And when taking into account the ability to cash in on business partnerships (i.e. the impending kit deal, likely with Nike or Adidas), and the revenue from the TV deals (which saw Liverpool receive more than any other Premier League club last year), missing out on a few add-ons isn’t a huge problem.
All the best at Bayern, Phil. Looking forward to the adorable pictures of you in lederhosen. Also, try not to fire too many shots into row ß.