Philippe Coutinho joins Barcelona from Liverpool; out injured for three weeks
Philippe Coutinho has completed his transfer from Liverpool to Barcelona for a club-record fee but has been ruled out for around three weeks through injury, the Spanish club announced on Monday.
The 25-year-old Brazil international forward signed a five-and-a-half-year contract shortly after 1 p.m. local time, after which he was presented to media and supporters at the Camp Nou stadium.
Coutinho underwent his medical on Monday morning despite a thigh problem that ruled him out of Liverpool's last two games, following the two clubs agreeing a deal on Saturday. The club said in a statement: "Coutinho has an injury to his right thigh and he is expected to be out for around 3 weeks."
That means Coutinho is likely to miss at least Barcelona's next three games -- against Celta Vigo (Jan. 11), Real Sociedad (Jan. 14) and Real Betis (Jan. 21). Barca are at home to Alaves on Jan. 28, before playing a local derby away at Espanyol on Feb. 4.
The transfer fee was not confirmed publicly, but ESPN FC sources and multiple reports said it would reach £142 million (€160m), with Liverpool receiving £105m (€120m) up front and the rest in performance-related add-ons.
Even the base figure would make Coutinho the second-most expensive player in world football behind Neymar, who left Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain last summer in a deal worth €222m (£200m).
After signing the deal, Coutinho said: "I hope to live up to all the expectations on the pitch. I'm grateful for the effort that the directors have made for me to be here."
He added that he wasn't at Barca to replace international colleague Neymar: "Me and Neymar are different players. He's a great player but we have different characteristics and I have come here to find my own place.
"I have spoken with Neymar, he congratulated me. He told me about the city, about the players and about how incredible the dressing room is. I also spoke with Paulinho, Luis [Suarez] and they said the same."
After donning the full Blaugrana kit for the first time and being greeted by more than 7,000 fans at the Camp Nou, he added: "I'm living a dream. Thanks to everyone for coming. It's a dream for all the players who have been here and those who are here now. It's hard to explain, but all my family are here to live this dream. I want to give thanks for my reception and I hope that soon I'll be on the pitch to live up to the expectations."
Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu confirmed that Coutinho had offers from other clubs, with reports in recent days claiming Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid maintained an interest, but that his desire to come to Camp Nou made the difference.
"[Coutinho] is a player that Barcelona have been trying to bring here since last summer," Bartomeu told the gathered media at the Camp Nou moments after the Brazilian had signed his contract.
"It's not been easy, but Coutinho was happy to come here and his effort and patience has been key in getting him here.
"We can be satisfied that one of the world's star players has landed in Barcelona. There were other clubs interest in him, but his desire to come here has seen him become the latest part of [Ernesto] Valverde's project."
Coutinho is already familiar with the city, having spent time living in Barcelona while on loan at Espanyol from Inter Milan in 2012, before eventually joining Liverpool from the Italian side for €10m the following year.
In five seasons at Anfield, where he played alongside future Barca teammate Luis Suarez, he has made 201 appearances and scored 54 goals, becoming a key part of Jurgen Klopp's team.
Klopp had stressed on several occasions over the past few months that Coutinho was not for sale at any price despite Barca's continued interest.
However, Coutinho's desire to move to the Camp Nou eventually paved the way for negotiations to open between the two clubs, with Liverpool's owners Fenway Sports Group reluctantly giving up on keeping the Brazilian.
Speaking about Suarez's influence on his move and his time at Liverpool, Coutinho said: "Luis a great player, I played with him at Liverpool and I am really happy to play with him again. He writes to me a lot, he's a close friend and has been a big help.
"We had a good season [at Liverpool], almost winning the Premier League... they were good moments...
"I would like to thank all the Liverpool fans, all the staff and all the players for the years I lived there. For sure, I gave everything I could. Unfortunately we couldn't win, but I lived five years, my family was very happy there, so I would like to thank them and wish them all the best."
Coutinho becomes Barcelona's fifth signing of the season following the return of Gerard Deulofeu to his boyhood club and the arrivals of Ousmane Dembele, Paulinho and Nelson Semedo last summer.
ESPN FC's Barcelona correspondent Sam Marsden contributed to this report.
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