Liverpool rejected repeated bids by Barcelona in August for Coutinho, but the clubs finally reached an agreement this weekend for a deal worth up to 160 million euros ($192 million), making the Brazilian playmaker one of the most expensive players in soccer history.
“I just want to thank the club for its patience and its effort,” Coutinho said. “I’m very happy, this is a dream come true for me and I hope to live up to the expectations.”
Coutinho was introduced to the fans at Camp Nou after signing his contract along with club president Josep Bartomeu, but his official debut will be delayed by about three weeks because of a right leg muscle injury confirmed during the medical he underwent after arriving from England.
The 25-year-old Coutinho had been playing regularly in Liverpool but missed the team’s weekend match because of the injury.
Coutinho had already shown his desire to join Barcelona in last year’s transfer window but Liverpool refused to release him at the time unless the Spanish club paid 200 million euros (then $237 million). Barcelona said it would have been an “irresponsible” financial risk for the club.
“It hasn’t been easy, but his desire to come and his patience were key,” Bartomeu said. “We need to thank Liverpool as well for agreeing to negotiate, because otherwise this wouldn’t have been possible.
“We are thrilled that one of the best players in the world is now with Barcelona.”
Coutinho’s transfer is the biggest ever for Barcelona, surpassed only by Paris Saint-Germain’s acquisition of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe last summer.
Coutinho was Barcelona’s main target after Neymar’s departure, but the club ended up signing young Frenchman Ousmane Dembele after the failed negotiations with Liverpool for the Brazilian playmaker.
Dembele’s transfer was the club record at the time — worth 105 million euros ($126 million) plus add-ons that could take the total to 147 million euros ($176 million).
Barcelona has now reinvested the 222 million euro windfall it received from PSG following Neymar’s transfer.
More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga
Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni