Five things you didn't know about Barcelona bound Philippe Coutinho

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Barcelona appear to have finally succeeded in their long pursuit of Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho.

Reports in both Spain and the UK suggest a British record fee of £142million – with £105m up front – has been agreed for the Brazil international.

That would be a considerable increase on the £118m which the Catalan club offered and had rejected in August when they made their third unsuccessful bid of the summer.

The 25-year-old, who has not played since the transfer window opened because of a thigh problem, did not travel with the squad for their warm weather training camp in Dubai.

It is now claimed he is travelling to Spain on Saturday night ahead of his presentation on Sunday

Here are five things you probably didn’t know about Coutinho.

Futsal was his first love before football 

Before the Brazilian stunned crowds at Anfield, he starred around the halls of Rio de Janeiro in futsal.

With restricted space, the diminutive midfielder honed his skills, developing a firm touch and quality ball control.

After joining a local football academy, it wasn’t long before Vasco de Gama came calling to acquire the youngster’s services – a club he would go on to spend nine years at before signing for Inter Milan.

The tournament that put his name on the map

It was in 2008 as a 16-year-old when Coutinho got his first chance to impress on international shores.

Representing Brazil, he took part in the U-16 Mediterranean Cup in Spain, lining up alongside a youngster from Sao Paolo named Neymar.

It was here where Inter Milan scouts noticed Coutinho – and he was bought for €4 million – but the move didn’t come into effect until two years later when he turned 18.

Luis Suarez is a close friend off the pitch

Since playing together at Liverpool during the 2013/14 season, Coutinho has maintained a solid friendship with Luis Suarez, who was his neighbour in England.

Suarez even came out in the media during the summer to praise Coutinho when reports were widespread about the Brazilian signing for the Camp Nou outfit.

The Uruguayan said: “I know him as a person and as a player because I played with him, but what Coutinho can contribute everyone knows.

Cites Neymar as his inspiration

While he cuts an imposing presence himself for club and country, Coutinho cites Neymar as his idol on the pitch.

In a recent interview with Four Four Two, the Barcelona bound star suggested he had based his game around the PSG man: “He’s our main idol in Brazilian football and someone young children look up to.”

The pair have played alongside each other with Brazil for nearly a decade – and between them – are the two most expensive players in the world.

Barcelona memories

The Brazilian knows what it’s like to play at the Camp Nou during his season on loan at Espanyol 2012.

Coutinho came on as a second half substitute in a comprehensive 4-0 derby defeat – where Lionel Messi netted four goals in Pep Guardiola’s final derby as manager.

Six years on, Coutinho returns to the city a different player and one that will make a difference as Ernesto Valverde’s attempt to lift the La Liga title for a third time in four seasons.

The magician

His remarkable talents have earned him the nickname ‘O Magico’ in Brazil.

He may be just 5’8, but he oozes confidence around the park with his crisp passing ability and attacking flair.

Although he was sidelined for the start of the season, the 25-year-old still managed to net 15 goals and provide eight assists in 25 matches in all competitions.

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"We better have a replacement lined up" - Reaction as Barcelona agree £142m Philippe Coutinho deal

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Going, going, gone: Philippe Coutinho

Barcelona appear to have finally succeeded in their long pursuit of Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho.

Reports in both Spain and the UK suggest a British record fee of £142million – with £105m up front – has been agreed for the Brazil international.

That would be a considerable increase on the £118m which the Catalan club offered and had rejected in August when they made their third unsuccessful bid of the summer.

The 25-year-old, who has not played since the transfer window opened because of a thigh problem, did not travel with the squad for their warm weather training camp in Dubai.

Below is reaction from fans and media alike.

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From obscurity to superstar status, Barcelona target Philippe Coutinho's rise is complete

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When Philippe Coutinho joined Liverpool in 2013, the Brazil forward was so lightly regarded that his signing was overshadowed by the arrival of Daniel Sturridge at Anfield earlier that month.

But five years later, Coutinho has become such a formidable force that his departure will be mourned by Liverpool fans around the world if Barcelona complete their bid to land the Reds star in a blockbuster transfer that could reportedly be worth up to 160 million euros ($192 million).

Coutinho was just 20 and yet to fully harness his talents when Liverpool paid £8.5 million ($11.5 million) to bring him to the Premier League from Inter Milan, so perhaps it was not surprising that beating Southampton to his signature could not take the spotlight away from the capture of the highly-rated Sturridge from the Chelsea.

It did not take long for Coutinho to seize the stage however and, while Sturridge’s injury-ravaged career is in danger of becoming an afterthought, the Brazilian is now one of the game’s most coveted players.

Coutinho’s against-the-odds rise is a tribute to a tenacious personality inherited from his close-knit working-class family back home in the tough Rocha district of Rio de Janeiro.

Now married to childhood sweetheart Aine, Coutinho once said: “My family is the foundation of everything in my life.”

He has needed that secure background to survive the slings and arrows of a career that might be glittering now, but for several years was full of potential pitfalls.

Having honed his natural gifts while playing futsal, the smaller indoor version of the sport, with brothers Cristiano and Leandro, the diminutive Coutinho was offered a trial by Vasco da Gama.

But Coutinho was so shy he clung to his father while the other youngsters warmed up.

“After a short while and some motivation, I was fine. When I actually started to play, it was all normal and natural. I wasn’t shy anymore, I was enjoying it,” he recalled.

The road was to get rougher for Coutinho, who was snubbed by Real Madrid when the Spanish giants passed up the chance to sign him from his Brazilian club for just £2.2 million in 2008.

Instead, at age 16 he moved to Inter, where then manager Rafael Benitez hailed him as “the future of Inter”.

That bold prediction was quickly forgotten as Coutinho found it difficult to adjust to life in Italy, with loan spells at Vasco and Espanyol providing more first-team opportunities but little to suggest his future stardom.

Fortunately for Coutinho, Brendan Rodgers, then in charge at Liverpool, had spotted his potential when he helped Brazil win the Under-20 World Cup.

Coutinho accepted the challenge of moving to England, where the frenetic and physical pace of play can sometimes overwhelm foreign imports.

He hit the ground running and scored his first goal for Liverpool on his full debut in a 5-0 victory over Swansea in February 2013.

It helped that Coutinho is teetotal and a devout Christian with no time for the nightclub antics that have derailed the careers of so many of his peers.

That commitment to his craft fuelled Coutinho’s ascent and he quickly became an integral part of the Liverpool side that narrowly failed to end the club’s long wait to win the title in the 2013-14 season.

Once Liverpool’s star striker Luis Suarez was sold to Barcelona in 2014, it was Coutinho who assumed the mantle of the team’s driving force.

With 41 goals and countless assists in 152 league appearances for Liverpool, Coutinho was just as valuable to current boss Jurgen Klopp once he succeeded Rodgers.

But silverware has been elusive at Anfield and a yearning for success on the grandest stage made it inevitable that he would hand in a transfer request when Barcelona offered over £100 million to sign him in August last year.

Liverpool rejected Barca’s approaches then, but there has been no such declaration of intent since the transfer talk heated up again and the feeling grows that Coutinho will get his wish this time.

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