Philippe Coutinho will officially sign for Barcelona on Monday in a deal worth £142m.
The behemoth fee paid to Liverpool dwarfs that of the £97m Barca spent on winger Ousmane Dembele this past summer. Coutinho is already in Spain ahead of his much anticipated official unveiling.
The Brazilian did appear at the Nou Camp on Sunday, but his brief statement made no mention of the club he has just departed.
Coutinho at Camp Nou https://t.co/mS3XwRPpjs
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 7, 2018
The Daily Mail were present throughout the past few days however, and the 25-year-old did speak to them about his experience at Anfield and the state of the team he is about to leave.
“They are in a healthy position, with very, very good footballers,” he told the Mail’s Lee Clayton.
“The signing of Virgil van Dijk is a statement, Mo Salah is a wonderful footballer. I look forward to watching them win trophies and to celebrating their success. I would not have left for any other club, but Barcelona is something different. It is a dream, a place of magic for me.”
Coutinho was all set to leave Jurgen Klopp’s side in the summer, going as far as to lodge a transfer request in order to force through a move. The clubs couldn’t reach an agreement though, with the player staying on until the January transfer window.
In the interim, Coutinho scored 12 goals in 20 appearances after missing the start of the season.
There are no hard feelings on Coutinho’s part in being denied in 2017 a chance to fulfil what he has repeatedly called a ‘dream’, with the forward promising to return to Merseyside soon.
“I gave 100 per cent, 100 per cent of the time I played for Liverpool,” he stated.
“Five years, I did everything I could possibly do. I love this club, but it is time for a new adventure. I have so many memories and have so many people to thank at Liverpool.
“I understand the size of the task ahead, the cost of the transfer, the status of the deal but this is about ambition, dreams. I want to play with the best player in the world. But I will return to Liverpool to say goodbye, to my team-mates, to staff and to the people who helped me and my family. I owe them a lot.
Now I am looking forward. It’s time.”
Liverpool preempted Coutinho’s departure, bringing aboard defender Virgil Van Dijk from Southampton for £75m.
Speculation has now turned to whether the Reds will opt to replace the Rio-born star in January or wait until the summer, with the likes of Thomas Lemar and Riyad Mahrez heavily linked with the Anfield outfit.