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Barcelona have announced the signing of Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool for a fee that could reach £142m. The Brazil international flew out on Saturday night and is expected to be at Barcelona’s match with Levante on Sunday afternoon. The 25-year-old did not join his Liverpool team-mates as they flew to Dubai on Saturday for a break and has been adamant that he did not wish to play again for the Anfield club.

In a statement on their website, Liverpool said: “Liverpool FC can confirm Philippe Coutinho will be leaving the club after a transfer agreement was reached with FC Barcelona, subject to a medical and agreement of personal terms. The player now has permission to complete the usual formalities to conclude the transfer immediately.” Barcelona confirmed Coutinho’s arrival on their website shortly afterwards, revealing the player will have a €400m (£355m) buyout clause.

Barcelona have put together a package worth a basic fee of £106m, plus a further £36m in variables, of which £26m should be easily met. After the £105m basic, an additional £17m would be payable for the first 100 games Coutinho plays for Barcelona, £4.4m per 25 games. A further £4.4m would be paid for Champions League qualification in the first two seasons with a £4.4m bonus for winning the competition. Coutinho has agreed a five-and-a-half-year deal worth £12.1m a season.

Liverpool had refused to countenance a sale in the summer, going so far as to release a statement insisting that Coutinho would not depart. Barça’s private confidence that Liverpool would back down proved to be unfounded, even though they did not give up until the last day of the summer transfer window. After the window closed, the club’s sporting director, Albert Soler, publicly claimed that at the last minute Liverpool had offered to sell for £177m but that they had that refused to meet such a figure as an act of financial responsibility. That statement was met with a denial from Anfield.

Barcelona had not given up on Coutinho but there was an internal debate about the extent to which they could afford to meet a fee which they believed would be in the region of £124m. Some on the board feared that not only was the fee high, having spent more than £88m of the £196m they had received for Neymar on Ousmane Dembélé, it might also deny opportunities to squad members such as Denis Suárez. While there was little doubt that in the medium to long term he was a priority, Coutinho would also be unable to play in the Champions League this season.

 

Coutinho remained determined to depart and Liverpool’s posture had changed. That shift became apparent in the public remarks from Anfield, as well as the private information Barcelona had, as they worked with the Brazilian’s camp. Liverpool team-mates had soon come to assume that he was going to leave.

 

Jürgen Klopp explained the departure on the Liverpool website, writing: “It is with great reluctance that we – as a team and club – prepare to say farewell to a good friend, a wonderful person and a fantastic player in Philippe Coutinho.

“It is no secret that Philippe has wanted this move to happen since July, when Barcelona first made their interest known. Philippe was insistent with me, the owners and even his team-mates this was a move he was desperate to make happen. Despite that, we managed to keep the player here beyond the summer window, hoping that we would be able to persuade him to stay and be part of what we are looking to do.

“I can tell the Liverpool supporters that we, as a club, have done everything within our means to convince Philippe that remaining part of LFC was as attractive as moving to Spain, but he is 100% certain his future – and that of his family – belongs at Barcelona.”

 

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