Barcelona confirm signing of Philippe Coutinho



Associated Press

Philippe Coutinho is joining Barcelona after Liverpool agreed to sell the Brazilian in a deal that makes him one of the most expensive players in football history.

Philippe Coutinho.

Philippe Coutinho.

Source: Associated Press

Barcelona did not reveal the cost of the deal for the 25-year-old playmaker but a person familiar with the details told The Associated Press that the transfer is worth 160 million euros (NZ $268m).

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly about the deal, which would be a club record for Barcelona.

Coutinho's transfer cost is only surpassed by the Paris Saint-Germain acquisition of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe last summer.

Barcelona has now reinvested the 222 million euro windfall it received from PSG following Neymar's world-record transfer to the French club in August.

Barcelona said Coutinho will sign a contract for the rest of the ongoing season and five more seasons.

Liverpool rejected three bids from Barcelona for Coutinho in August.

The Spanish league leaders broke their own transfer record to sign France forward Ousmane Dembele from Borussia Dortmund in August for a fee of 105 million euros that could rise to 147 million euros. Barcelona hoped to sign Coutinho at the same time but it has taken until the January transfer window to convince Liverpool to sell one of its most creative players.

Coutinho will arrive bearing high expectations to meet the lofty standards of Barcelona's long line of skilled midfielders.

Barcelona has been searching for a player with the vision and passing talent of Xavi Hernandez since the Spain great left the club after 17 seasons to play in Qatar 2 1/2 years ago.

Coutinho will rejuvenate a midfield core led by the 33-year-old Andres Iniesta and which includes Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic and Paulinho, who are all 29.

On announcing his signing, Barcelona hailed Coutinho as "a young player with potential still to be tapped."

His arrival means that Barcelona will likely part ways with one or more of midfielders Andre Gomes, Arda Turan and Rafinha.

Coutinho won't be able to play for Barcelona in the Champions League since he has already featured in the competition with Liverpool in the group stage. But he will be available for

Barcelona's bid to reclaim the Spanish league title from Real Madrid and defend its Copa del Rey crown.

Originally from Rio de Janeiro, Coutinho made the leap from Brazilian club Vasco de Gama to Inter Milan in 2010. He got a taste of the Spanish league in a six-month loan deal at Espanyol in 2012 before he then made the move to Liverpool in January 2013, where he became one of the Premier League's most dynamic playmakers.

He scored 41 goals in 152 Premier League appearances for Liverpool, including seven in 14 matches this season.

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