After a summer-long pursuit, six days is all Barcelona required in the New Year to finally get their man.
Philippe Coutinho has joined the Catalan giants after Liverpool agreed to sell at £142million.
The 25-year-old was unveiled as a Blaugrana player on Monday although his debut will be some three weeks away as he recovers from a thigh injury.
In a transfer of such magnitude there are numerous winners and losers and so we take a look at three of each.
Bare with me on this.
It’s been noted the German ultimately had the final say on whether Coutinho remained or not.
Given the trust bestowed by club’s owners and supporters, leaving such a sanction to Klopp would make complete sense because there is no one better positioned to make the decision.
While Coutinho is a supremely gifted footballer and one statistically so important to the Reds, the contextual element of keeping a player against his will could be far more damaging than letting him leave.
The Reds require momentum to ensure Champions League football is secured for next season and avoiding negativity both inside and outside the club is crucial.
Ultimately, he has to manage the team and the dressing room, any imbalance could knock Liverpool off their stride.
Don’t forget, the Reds boss has previous for letting stars leave, think Robert Lewandowski to Bayern Munich, and there should be no confusion that a quality player isn’t necessarily an indispensable one.
Josep Maria Bartomeu
A summer backlash from members of the board, supporters and even players left the Barcelona president in an uneasy position.
A failed move for Paris Saint-Germain’s Marco Verratti was damaging, Neymar’s exit to the Parisians proved disastrous while question marks over Lionel Messi’s contract extension disturbed and the initial moves for Coutinho were denied.
But with Barca sitting atop La Liga, Messi’s new deal confirmed and Coutinho signed, the situation is looking decidedly more rosy for Bartomeu.
The club’s lack of success in the market hit the team hard with many said to have felt cheated by Bartomeu’s regime.
Completing the signature of their No1 target, regardless of the exponential fee involved, is a significant statement.
Few were as hurt by the exit of Neymar more than Messi. A perfect partner on the pitch and a close friend away from it, the South American duo alongside Luis Suarez formed the most deadly attacking trio in history.
Replacing him was always going to be an impossible task and predictably the creative burden has fallen squarely on Messi.
Granted, he’s not just shouldered the pressure but embraced it also but with Coutinho almost certainly set for a role in midfield, the extra creative avenue will enable the Argentine to attack in deeper in the opposition box.
The passing chain of command will see a spine of Sergio Busquets-Coutinho-Messi and that will give not just Barca added support, but the main man Messi, too.
In the short term an aging player will be afforded rest in the league to challenge in Europe allowing Coutinho the rest of the campaign to settle in at the club pressure free.
Beyond that, Iniesta’s days are numbered.
There can be no doubt the Brazilian is his heir apparent despite all proclamations he is happy to play anywhere.
For all his quality, the 33-year-old Iniesta has started to tire and ushering in a new era with Coutinho will see the Spaniard pushed out the first-team fold.
Ernesto Valverde’s variety means he can rotate between three or four roles in the middle and front line for now, but it will be fascinating to see when fit where Coutinho starts for the Catalan giants.
From super suave Samba moves for goal celebrations to matching bright white teeth, Coutinho and Firmino’s on-pitch chemistry hallmarked a squad lacking talent in the aftermath of the 2013/14 season.
Together day in and day out, their friendship away from the pitch more than assisted their understanding on it.
For an attacker, Coutinho’s incredible passing ability is a gift and the telepathy between the two allowed for a free-flowing and dynamic Liverpool attack.
No player in the current Reds fold will feel Coutinho’s exit more than his Brazilian counterpart.
No individual player or manager will be more gutted than the collective Anfield support, however.
While the manner of how maneuvered his dream move will have infuriated the masses, it can’t tarnish the otherworldly displays he produced.
During a talent-downturn after the 2013/14 title challenging squad was dismantled, Coutinho was the sole player exhibiting world-class ability.
His thunderous long-range strikes and wizardry with the ball at his feet will be sorely missed.
New Barcelona signing Philippe Coutinho has told Liverpool fans he hopes they understand why he left for the Nou Camp in a £142million switch.
The 25-year-old Brazilian’s five-year stint at Anfield ended at the weekend when Barca finally struck an agreement with the Reds, making Coutinho the second most-expensive player of all time after they were paid an initial £105m up front.
Liverpool had rejected Barca’s bids last summer, despite Coutinho’s desire to force through the transfer, but having finally sealed his move in this window the outgoing playmaker has posted a message to Reds supporters on his Instagram account.
“Since the moment I arrived in Liverpool, me and my family have been made to feel so welcome and have made so many friends,” he wrote.
“On the pitch and off the pitch, we have experienced the beauty of this club and its fans. In turn, I hope I have delivered memories and moments that have brought happiness to the Liverpool supporters.
“Moving to Liverpool, I knew the club’s greatness and history but what I did learn during my time was the unique heart and soul of the place. It has its own personality and character.
“I leave Liverpool because Barcelona is a dream for me. Liverpool was a dream that I was fortunate enough to realise and I have given five years of my life to it. A career on the pitch only lasts for so long and to play for Barcelona as well as Liverpool is something I want to experience and enjoy while I am blessed enough to be able to do so.
“I hope the supporters understand that choosing to experience something new is not about diminishing their importance to me or the club’s importance. Nothing will ever diminish that in my heart.
“I wish Jurgen (Klopp) and the team nothing but joy and success for the rest of this season and beyond. This is an amazing team and they are getting better and better all the time.”
Coutinho ended the post by addressing Reds supporters directly, adding: “I can never thank you enough for what you have given me during this time and no matter where I go in the world, for the rest of my life, I will always cherish Liverpool in my heart. You, the club and the city will always be a part of me.”
Barcelona’s latest signing was unveiled on Monday but a thigh injury that kept him out of Liverpool’s last two games will also delay his debut for his new club.
In another Instagram post that contained multiple images of him in a Barca shirt, Coutinho said: “A Dream Come True thank you Barcelona. I can’t wait to start my journey with you!”
Provided by Press Association Sport
Zinedine Zidane has admitted he won’t be the Real Madrid manager in ten years time, despite his achievements as a player.
After a successful start to life in the dugout, the Frenchman is suffering a rough patch having fallen 16 points behind league-leaders and arch-rivals Barcelona.
Pressure is mounting on the Madrid legend having won just nine of 17 league games so far this season.
However, having already brought the club two Champions League titles and a La Liga crown, the 45-year-old has more than earned time to turn things around.
Speaking to France Football after being named French coach of the year, he said: “Zinedine Zidane isn’t a player at Real Madrid anymore. That Zidane no longer exists.
“Now it’s down to Zinedine Zidane the coach to carve out a career. I’m not protected by what I’ve done as a player at this club. I know I won’t stay [in the job] for 10 years.”
Madrid sit fourth in the table and have failed to win three of their last four league games.
Despite the pressure, though, Zidane insists he’s not affected by the speculation surrounding his future.
“External pressure doesn’t affect me. I’ve wrapped a shield around myself; nothing can bother me,” he said. “I have many responsibilities but when I get home, I switch off. I know that many coaches aren’t able to take their minds off the job, but I do have that ability.”
Real lost further ground on Barca as they were held to a 2-2 draw by Celta Vigo on Sunday and Zidane now faces testing clash with sixth-placed Villarreal on Saturday.