What Philippe Coutinho did during Barcelona’s time to pay Liverpool in full
Liverpool sold Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona almost three years ago in a record-breaking transfer involving a British club. But it’s only now that the Reds will finally have all the money.
Coutinho was a star for the first two years at the helm of Jurgen Klopp, having been signed for just £ 8.5million by Brendan Rodgers. But it was his departure and the huge expense that arguably paved the way for the success that followed, with key players like Virgil van Dijk and Alisson brought in shortly after.
18 months after Coutinho left Anfield, Liverpool won the Champions League, while another year later the elusive Premier League title followed.
The initial fee agreed with Barcelona was reportedly £ 105million. But the deal included an additional £ 37million that could be triggered over time, bringing it to £ 142million in total.
The Liverpool Echo is convinced that all of the add-ons, which were largely based on appearance, have now been triggered from Coutinho’s 90th game for the Catalans. This means Liverpool will receive all of Barca’s £ 142million and should expect a final payment of £ 4.4million shortly.
For Barcelona, that £ 142million has not represented value for money at all.
Coutinho actually got off to a good start when he arrived at Camp Nou in the middle of the 2017/18 season, scoring 13 goals and assists in 18 La Liga appearances as Barca claimed the title. He was also not eligible for the infamous Champions League collapse against Roma and was not responsible for that disaster.
But even though Barcelona were La Liga champions again in 2018/19, the first full season brought significant challenges for the Brazilian. He has only made seven goals in the league, including five before the end of October. Towards the end of the campaign, his long-term future looked increasingly uncertain and even potentially untenable.
Meanwhile, Coutinho also faced his former club in the Champions League semi-finals, being pulled out after just an hour of each game and receiving the iconic 4-0 defeat at Anfield to complete Liverpool’s overall comeback.
Barca no longer wanted Coutinho in the summer of 2019, just 18 months after committing to the £ 142million transfer from Liverpool. They eventually managed to transfer him on loan to Bayern Munich for € 8.5million, although that did not offer the new start the player hoped for.
His time at Bayern was average in a very good team where the competition for places was tough. There have been occasions where he has been in form, including securing a hat-trick and two assists in a 6-1 beating from Werder Bremen, a brace in a 6-0 win over Hoffenheim and other sporadic performances to note.
But Coutinho missed most of the Bundesliga’s summer resumption after the coronavirus forced break due to an ankle injury. And, although he started most games in the Champions League group stage, he was only a substitute in the later rounds as Bayern really activated him.
Coutinho scored twice against Barcelona in an infamous 8-2 annihilation and appeared in the final against Paris Saint-Germain for the final 22 minutes. But he certainly couldn’t claim to have played an active role in the knockout stages, despite coming away with a winner’s medal.
Unsurprisingly, Bayern declined their € 120million option to make the transfer permanent.
Major changes at Barcelona and the lack of a market to sell him have given Coutinho the chance for a clean slate in 2020/21. But the club are in crisis and they are Barca’s worst team in a generation. He has only started just over half of La Liga’s games and was benched for this week’s win over Real Valladolid after a fairly anonymous performance in a 2-2 draw with Valencia before.
Barca are fifth in the current standings, are nowhere near pace in the title race and face a serious battle just to finish in the top four and ensure they qualify for the Champions League next season. The fact that Coutinho cannot occupy a regular place in such a poor Barca side by the club’s high standards is a rather damning indictment of the level he has fallen to since 2018.
Coutinho has won three league titles, the Champions League and two domestic cups to his name since leaving Liverpool, which is actually more than what the Reds have won in the same period. But he cannot say that the time he has passed since leaving Anfield has been a success as he has not been a leading man, nor Barca now that they are finally required to pay the last part of the £ 142million transfer fee.
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