Sport Soccer

Thursday 26 April 2018

Ernesto Valverde and Luis Suarez expecting Philippe Coutinho to contribute a lot to Barca

FC Barcelona's new signing Philippe Coutinho during the presentation. REUTERS/Albert Gea
FC Barcelona's new signing Philippe Coutinho during the presentation. REUTERS/Albert Gea
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Philippe Coutinho can bring something different to Barcelona, according to head coach Ernesto Valverde.

Coutinho was at the Nou Camp to watch his new side's 3-0 LaLiga win over Levante on Sunday following his British record move, which could be worth up to £142million.

The 25-year-old Brazil international will perform a ceremonial signing of his contract at 1130GMT on Monday before a photo shoot on the pitch and a press conference.

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, 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."

Coutinho has been reported to be carrying a thigh injury which could yet delay his Barcelona debut, which had been expected against Celta Vigo in the Copa del Rey tie on Thursday.

The Brazilian, though, cannot wait to get started. Having earlier been presented at an official 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.

Barcelona's win against Levante moved them back nine points clear ahead of Atletico Madrid, who had beaten Getafe on Saturday.

Lionel Messi marked his 400th LaLiga appearance with an early goal which was his 365th in the division.

It saw the Argentine playmaker equal the record of German forward Gerd Muller for goals in a single league across Europe's leading five top-flight competitions.

In-form Luis Suarez, who himself left Anfield for the Nou Camp during the summer of 2014, added a second before the break and Paulinho tapped in a late third.

The Uruguay international is looking forward to linking up with Coutinho once again.

"As a former team-mate, as a friend, I am very happy for him," Suarez said post-match, as quoted on marca.com.

"I think he is going to contribute a lot to the team.

"Everyone knows the quality that he has - he has been in the elite group of players for many years."

Valverde handed midfielder Ousmane Dembele, fit again after suffering a hamstring injury on his LaLiga debut following a 105million euro (£93m) move, a place in the starting XI.

The Barcelona coach was pleased with the team's efforts on their return to league action.

"We always want to do things well and to continue winning," he said.

"We played very well in the first half, but the pace was different in the second half."

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