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‘I have dreamed of playing here’: Philippe Coutinho finally arrives at Barcelona

Philippe Coutinho completes transfer from Liverpool to Barcelona – video

‘I have dreamed of playing here’: Philippe Coutinho finally arrives at Barcelona

Philippe Coutinho was given the full treatment: laid out on the stretcher, name of the club’s official medical supplier splashed on the boards behind him, thumbs up, cables suckered on to his chest, and the string vest, plus clearance to play – just not yet.

By the time he arrived for his presentation at the Camp Nou, where he thanked Liverpool for having “kept their word” and Barcelona’s vice-president, Jordi Mestre, said that the financial demands had “dropped”, facilitating the sale, it had been confirmed that Coutinho will be out for 20 days with a hamstring injury. He has waited months to get here; he will have to wait a little longer to play.

Coutinho described his last conversation with Jürgen Klopp as one of “gratitude”. He said he was thankful Liverpool had kept their word – the second time he said so – but did not reveal what that word was, although five months after refusing to let him go they granted his wish, finally agreeing to him joining Barcelona, for a total fee that could reach €160m (£142m).

As the Spanish phrase has it, Mr Money is a powerful gentleman. Coutinho’s own conviction remained steadfast. He had made up his mind. Liverpool, he said, accepted that in the end.

“It was hard. Every moment it changed, three, four months, and then we were here, done. I think I still don’t properly realise it but I will soon when I train with my team-mates. Liverpool did everything they could to keep me and tried to make me stay but they understood that this was my dream.”

And so he followed the path of Luis Suárez, with whom he said he had been in constant contact. The Uruguayan even helped him look for a house and was waiting for him at the airport late on Saturday night.

The following afternoon Coutinho watched Barcelona beat Levante from the Reina Sofia hotel on Diagonal, the avenue that cuts through the city, and on Monday morning he headed for his medical.

From there he went to the Sant Joan Despí training ground and on to the Sala Roma at the Camp Nou. A quick word from the president and he was handed a shirt. His name was on the back but so far it has no number – although he is likely to take Javier Mascherano’s No14.

Next stop was the dressing room and, to the strains of the club anthem, on to the pitch where his first game in a Barcelona shirt was a brief kickabout with a small group of kids. For a while they kept the ball from him but at least none tested the extent of an injury many on Merseyside suspected was more in the mind than in his muscles.

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Source : Theguardian
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