Philippe Coutinho hopes Liverpool fans understand move to Barcelona

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Waving goodbye: Philippe Coutinho

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

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Zinedine Zidane admits he won't be at Real Madrid for 10 years

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Looking into the future: Zinedine Zidane

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.

La Liga table

“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.

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Monaco boss Leonardo Jardim admits Liverpool target Thomas Lemar could leave in January

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On the move: Thomas Lemar

Monaco’s Thomas Lemar looks set to leave Monaco after head coach Leonardo Jardim admitted he’ll struggle to keep the winger, with both Liverpool and Arsenal looking to secure his signature.

The Reds are on the lookout for a new midfielder having sold Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona this week. Lemar has attracted a lot of attention with his performances, and nearly completed a move to Arsenal in the summer, before the move eventually broke down.

The 22-year-old French international had previously been told by Monaco’s vice-president Vadim Vasilyev he was not allowed to leave mid-season, but it’s looking increasingly likely the winger will leave during the January transfer window.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Jardim said: “We are not used to selling in the winter, but the transfer window lasts until the end of the month and many things can happen.”

Monaco, currently second in the Ligue 1 table, lost key men Kylian Mbappe, Bernardo Silva and Benjamin Mendy last season and have stressed they do not wish to sell Lemar, but a large bid may be too good to refuse.

Both Jurgen Klopp and Arsene Wenger are looking to strengthen their squads, with The Reds looking to replace Coutinho, and while Arsenal look to cover Alexis Sanchez who looks destined to switch to Manchester City.

Lemar has been included in Monaco’s squad for Tuesday’s Coupe de la Ligue quarter-final at Nice.

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