With the loan to Aston Villa until the end of this season, the Brazilian Philippe Coutinho (29 years old), the most expensive signing in the history of Barcelona, closed his stage as a Barça player this Friday for the second time, where he arrived with the star tag and ended up becoming a disastrous business for the entity. 120 million euros and 40 more in variables.
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That was the figure that Barcelona paid in January 2018 to Liverpool to take over the services of the Brazilian midfielder. It was on January 6, 2018. This Friday, four years later, his loan was confirmed for the remainder of the season to Aston Villa, who will assume part of the high profile of the Brazilian player.
“The agreement, subject to the player passing the medical examination and receiving the English work permit, includes a purchase option,” announced the Spanish club, in which it has not settled since its arrival in January 2018.
Aston Villa, thirteenth in the Premier League, greeted the arrival of its new player with the message on social networks “Welcome, Philippe Coutinho!”. “The English team is taking over a part of the player’s file, who is scheduled to travel to Birmingham in the next few hours,” said Barça.
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Heading to England
It will thus be the second time that Coutinho has been transferred, being the property of Barcelona, a club with which he still has a contract until June 2023. Despite the price inflated by inflation caused by the 222 million euros that the Barça club received for him Goodbye from Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain, Coutinho’s operation seemed to make sense at a sporting level.
A player of proven level landed in Barcelona, key in Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool schemes and undisputed starter in the Brazilian team. But from the first games it was difficult for him to adapt.
At the club they saw him as the natural replacement for Andrés Iniesta, an unbalanced interior, a position that he was combining with that of third point along with the Argentine Leo Messi and the Uruguayan Luis Suárez. The grass never found its place. And that in the second half of the 2017-18 season he scored 9 goals and distributed 8 assists in the 22 games he played between the League and the Copa del Rey.
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Barça’s second course should have been the confirmation of Coutinho, but it was not, despite being a permanent fixture for coach Ernesto Valverde, with whom he participated in 54 games, scoring 11 goals and giving 5 assists. Figures below the expectations of the Barça fan, who grew impatient with the Brazilian’s performance. Proof of this is that the midfielder exploded one day against those who whistled at him at the Camp Nou, in a match against Manchester United, by not celebrating a goal and covering his ears with his fingers in protest, which angered even more to his critics.
Days later, he justified that the gesture had directed him to the press. However, from that April 2019 it was sung that Coutinho would not continue at Barça. And so it was that in the summer of that same year the Barça team closed its loan to Bayern Munich, a team that paid 8.5 million euros on loan to the Barça entity for a year, in addition to taking over the player’s file.
Your stay in Germany
In the German team he played 39 games, distributed 14 assists and scored 11 goals, two of which to close the historic win that Barcelona conceded in the quarterfinals of the Champions League (2-8). Despite a remarkable season in Germany, Bayern did not execute the purchase option of 120 million euros and Coutinho returned to the Camp Nou being, yes, European champion. In the 2020-21 season, then-coach Ronald Koeman received him with open arms after the goodbye of props such as Luis Suárez and Ivan Rakitic.
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Under the Dutchman’s orders, he played 14 games, scored 3 goals and gave 2 assists before injuring the external meniscus in his left knee on December 30, 2020. Complications in one knee prevented Barcelona from finding a way out last summer. Coutinho underwent surgery three times and did not reappear until last September 14 in the group stage match of the Champions League against Bayern Munich.
In January, both parties needed to reach an agreement. The Barça club sought to extend the salary limit by releasing the highest chip in the first squad, while the player, with very little prominence under Xavi Hernández, needed to gain minutes to be able to play in the next World Cup in Qatar.
At last, the stars lined up for Coutinho to leave a club in which he never quite stood out as other Brazilian players such as Romario, Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Neymar did. Steven Gerard, now Aston Villa coach and with whom he met at Liverpool, wants to recover the star that never shone at the Camp Nou.
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