Wednesday 23 January 2019

Liverpool rubbish Barca claims Philippe Coutinho sold for 'reduced' fee

Barcelona's new signing Brazilian Philippe Coutinho poses for the media, during his official presentation at the Camp Nou
Barcelona's new signing Brazilian Philippe Coutinho poses for the media, during his official presentation at the Camp Nou
Barcelona's new signing Philippe Coutinho during Photo: REUTERS/Albert Gea

Chris Bascombe

Liverpool have rubbished Barcelona's claim the Mereyside club sold Philippe Coutinho for a "reduced" fee as the £142 million (€160m) signing was finally unveiled at the Nou Camp.

Having won the fight for his signature, Barcelona sought to gain another political victory by stating they paid less than they were quoted for the Brazilian last summer.

Liverpool sources familiar with the negotiations are adamant that is not the case because no price was ever proposed by the club's owners, Fenway Sports Group.

Barca's suggestion does not tally with the Merseyside club's firm position that there was no fee which would have forced the 25-year-old's sale last summer.

Liverpool would not entertain negotiations with the Catalan club until recently, a position they made clear in a club statement last August and from which they never shifted in the last transfer window.

Negotiations over a fee were only concluded shortly before Coutinho's exit, with the player making a financial contribution of £11.5m (€13m) to ensure the valuation was met. However, the money was raised, and Liverpool's asking price of €160m was agreed.

That did not prevent Barcelona's vice-president Jordi Mestre suggesting that his club had managed to haggle successfully.

"The club has always been interested in signing Coutinho, the difference to last summer is that there was a big cut in price," Mestre said.

"We won't state the numbers because Liverpool don't want us to, but there was a big price cut."

Having made the contentious - and in Liverpool's view inaccurate - remark, Barcelona chose not to elaborate.

Liverpool's position was consistent, as demonstrated in their statement four months ago.

"The club's definitive stance is that no offers for Philippe will be considered and he will remain a member of Liverpool Football Club when the summer window closes," it said.

This was reinforced by Klopp at that time. "From a financial standpoint there is no price limit to let him go. A price at which we are ready to give in," he said in August.

"Our goal is to have the best possible team so we want to keep our guys and add new ones. "

Liverpool wanted to stand firm this month, too, but eventually relented under pressure from the player, his representatives, Barcelona and even their sponsors -sportswear giants Nike - who announced the deal prematurely at the start of the month.

Nike's promotion of a Coutinho Barcelona jersey was never explained by the company. They also have a deal with the player.

Barcelona's politicking is in keeping with a familiar trend in Spanish football, where elected board members seek to lobby for popular support when basking in the glow of a transfer coup.

Coutinho said he was fulfilling a dream by moving to the Nou Camp, where he signed a five-and-a-half-year deal, revealing how his former Liverpool team-mate Luis Suarez was constantly urging him to make the move.

Suarez left Anfield for Barcelona in 2014 for £65m (€82m).

"Luis is a great player, I played with him at Liverpool and I am really happy to play with him again," said Coutinho, who was handed the No 14 shirt.

"We've kept in contact. He writes to me a lot, he's a close friend and he's been a big help. It's an honour to play with him again."

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