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Liverpool's Coutinho heads for dream move to Barca
Barcelona on Saturday announced that they had reached an agreement to sign Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho in a 160 million euro deal. The 25-year-old Brazil international joined the Merseyside giants from Inter Milan for 10 million euros in January 2013.
"Coutinho will sign a contract for the rest of the season and five more years with a release clause of 400 million euros," Barcelona said in a statement.
Brendan Rodgers, then in charge at Liverpool, spotted Coutinho’s potential when he helped Brazil win the Under-20 World Cup in 2011.
He came to England and was an instant success. He scored his first goal for Liverpool on his full debut in a 5-0 victory over Swansea in February 2013 and was a key member of Rodgers’ team that narrowly failed to win the Premier League title in 2014.
Once Liverpool's star striker Luis Suarez was sold to Barcelona in 2014, it was Coutinho who assumed the mantle of the team's driving force.
This season the Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has handed Coutinho the skipper’s armband in the absence of Jordan Henderson. But not even that honour has been enough to thwart the advances of Barcelona who offered more than 150 million euros to sign him last August.
Liverpool rejected Barca's approaches in the summer. But Klopp admitted on Saturday that they were powerless to resist the latest overtures.
"It's no secret that Philippe has wanted this move to happen since July, when Barcelona first made their interest known," Klopp told the Liverpool website.
"Philippe was insistent with me, the owners and even his teammates this was a move he was desperate to make happen.
"We managed to keep the player here beyond the summer window, hoping that we would be able to persuade him to stay and be part of what we are looking to do," added Klopp.
"I can tell the Liverpool supporters that we, as a club, have done everything within our means to convince Philippe that remaining part of LFC was as attractive as moving to Spain. But he is 100 per cent certain his future - and that of his family - belongs at Barcelona.
"It is his dream and I am now convinced there is nothing left at our disposal to change his mind. Philippe has made a fantastic contribution to this club over his five years of service and as disappointed as we are he doesn't want to extend that, the relationship we have for him means with a heavy heart we wish him well," he said.
Klopp added: "The player remained dedicated and committed to helping us win matches, producing good performances and training hard each day at Melwood after the summer window had closed, despite failing to convince us to allow him to leave during that period and that level of professionalism reflects positively on him."