Unfortunately for Liverpool fans Coutinho will only get better and better at Barcelona

Alex Rea 8/01/2018
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Barcelona are poised to get the best years of Philippe Coutinho's career.

Philippe Coutinho officially joined Barcelona on Monday, completing a move from Liverpool thought to be worth €160million, making it the third richest transfer in history.

While the Reds bagged a hefty transfer fee, there’s no doubt that this transfer will hurt Jurgen Klopp’s side, who would have hoped the Brazilian was set for a long spell at Anfield to help break the club’s title drought.

What sort of impact will this transfer have on Liverpool and Barcelona?

Liverpool Echo‘s James Pearce shares his thoughts on the record-breaking move.

What sort of personality, off the pitch and on it, are Barca getting for their money?

He’s quiet and humble. He’s not going to be a big voice in the dressing room, but he will settle in quickly and be popular with his new team-mates.

Playing wise, he’s driven and fiercely ambitious – we’ve seen that in his desperation to make this move happen. He has matured and developed so much over the course of his five years at Liverpool.

He had a habit of drifting in and out of matches, but now he’s so much more consistent. He’s a match-winner.

His positionally flexibility between midfield and attack is a great asset but where do you see Coutinho being most effective for Barca?

I think Barca see him as Iniesta’s long-term successor. He is flexible. He played a lot of his football for Liverpool on the left of a front three, but over the past 12 months Jurgen Klopp has used primarily him in an advanced central midfield role.

That’s where he has the most influence on matches because he’s involved to a much greater degree when he’s operating in the middle. He has that rare ability to unlock a stubborn defence.

Heir to the throne: Andres Iniesta

Heir to the throne: Andres Iniesta

What formations has he played within during his time at Liverpool?

Many different ones. 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1, 4-1-4-1, 4-4-2, 3-5-2. He’s won games for Liverpool from out on the left, drifting into pockets of space and causing havoc. But I think his future is definitely in the centre of midfield where he can really pull the strings.

We know his dribbling and strikes from range hallmark his ability but do those abilities overlook other aspects of his game which have caught the eye?

Tactically, he’s improved a great deal from working with Klopp. His decision making is so much better. I think sometimes his work rate gets overlooked. He’s not the kind of creative player who stands around waiting for the ball to come to him.

His close control is majestic and he will score spectacular goals, but his biggest asset for me is his passing. He will provide so many chances for the likes of Suarez and Messi with his vision and creative spark.

One of the more interesting aspects is how he will fit in with Lionel Messi. When Suarez joined he seemed more capable of adjusting to fit within the Argentine’s world but at Liverpool Coutinho has carried the creative burden. Could he experience some early teething problems or will he take his game to a new level?

I don’t think he’ll have any issues. This is his dream move and he’s reunited with one of his best friends in Suarez. Coutinho will love playing with Messi. It will be painful for Liverpool fans to watch but I only see Coutinho getting better and better at the Camp Nou.

Is there one game which stands out in your memory as one which perfectly encapsulates the type of player Barca have signed?

The one that sticks out for me is the Premier League game against Manchester City at Anfield in April 2014. It was 2-2 when Coutinho took centre stage and won the game late on with such a classy strike. At the time it looked like that win would propel Liverpool to the Premier League title. That didn’t happen but it ended talk that Coutinho didn’t deliver in the big games.

Iniesta could be the fall guy for Coutinho in the long run, do you think the Brazilian has what it takes to step into his shoes and deal with the pressure of the fee and this comparison?

I think he’ll embrace it. This is what he’s wanted since he was a kid. He’s taken his game to the next level this season. I don’t see him struggling under the weight of expectation. Playing for Liverpool and Brazil, he’s no strange to dealing with pressure.

Is his injury record a point of concern for Barcelona?

I wouldn’t say so. He made 201 appearances for Liverpool in the space of five years. In the four full seasons he spent at Anfield, the least number of games he played in any one campaign was 36 in 2016/17 when he was out for six weeks with ankle ligament damage.

I think a player like Coutinho is always going to get muscle injuries now and again. He’s also on the receiving end of some rough treatment from defenders. But he’s pretty robust and is no stranger to that physical side of things after his time in England.

For more of James Pearce’s views on all things Liverpool and football, follow him on Twitter. You can keep up to date with the latest Liverpool news on Liverpool Echo’s dedicated Twitter handle as well, here

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Philippe Coutinho ruled out for three weeks with thigh injury after Barcelona medical

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The world's second most expensive player: Coutinho.

New Barcelona star Philippe Coutinho will be forced to wait at least three weeks before making his full debut for his new side.

The former Liverpool man’s medical at Blaugrana, ahead of his official unveiling on Monday, revealed he is suffering with a right thigh problem – the same issue that had kept him out of Jurgen Klopp’s team in recent fixtures.

The Brazilian is currently with the Barcelona medical staff before he will be publicly presented at the Nou Camp.

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Coutinho: Playing alongside Messi and Suarez at Barcelona is 'dream come true'

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The world's second most expensive player: Coutinho.

Philippe Coutinho says the prospect of playing with the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez means his move to Barcelona is a dream come true ahead of his official unveiling.

The finishing touches have been put on his British record transfer from Liverpool, which could be worth up to £142million, and the Spanish club will parade him at the Nou Camp on Monday.

The 25-year-old Brazil international, who watched his new side’s 3-0 win over Levante on Sunday, will perform a ceremonial signing of his contract at 1130GMT on Monday before a photo shoot on the pitch and a press conference.

He told Barca TV: “I’m very happy, very happy. I have always said that it is a dream that I am living and I am very happy to be here.

“To be able to play, win titles, make the fans happy… always play with joy.

“It is incredible to know that I am going to live with idols, players with a lot of history.

“Footballers like Leo Messi, Luis Suarez, (Andres) Iniesta, (Gerard) Pique, (Sergio) Busquets.

“I am very happy to be able to live together, to be able to learn from them and be able to win together.”

Having earlier been presented at a photocall, Coutinho posted a short video message on the Barcelona Twitter feed.

“Hi Barca fans. I am already here, it is a dream come true, and I hope to see you tomorrow,” Coutinho said.

Coutinho is joining a team that are nine points clear at the top of LaLiga and seemingly on the way to another title.

And boss Ernesto Valverde is confident Coutinho, who arrived at Liverpool from Inter Milan for £8.5million in January 2013, will prove a valuable addition to his star-studded squad.

“I think he can bring us a lot of things,” Valverde said at a press conference after Sunday’s game, as quoted by Spanish media outlet Marca.

“Coutinho scores goals, assists, he can play both inside (down the centre) and outside (on the flanks).

“I have seen him play in many positions both for Liverpool and in his national team.

“After taking a long break, he is already with us, we hope he will help us and we will wait to see him train for at least one day to assess his condition.”

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