Barcelona have agreed the signing of Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool for a fee that could reach £142m. Barcelona expect the Brazil international to fly out in time to be at their match with Levante on Sunday afternoon. The 25-year-old did not join his Liverpool team-mates as they flew to Dubai on Saturday and has been adamant that he did not wish to play again for the Anfield club.
Barcelona have put together a package worth a basic fee of £106m, plus a further £36m in variables, of which £26m should be easily met. After the £105m basic, an additional £17m would be payable for the first 100 games Coutinho plays for Barcelona, £4.4m per 25 games. A further £4.4m would be paid for Champions League qualification in the first two seasons with a £4.4m bonus for winning the competition. Coutinho has agreed a five-and-a-half-year deal worth £12.1m a season.
Liverpool had refused to countenance a sale in the summer, going so far as to release a statement insisting that he would not depart, and Barça’s private confidence that they would back down proved to be unfounded, even though they did not finally give up until the last day of the summer transfer window. After the window closed, the club’s sporting director, Albert Soler, publicly claimed that at the last minute Liverpool had offered to sell for £177m but that they had that refused to meet such figure as an act of financial responsibility. That statement was met with a denial from Anfield.
Barcelona had not given up on Coutinho but there was an internal debate about the extent to which they could afford to meet a fee which they believed would be in the region of £124m. Some on the board feared that not only was the fee high, having spent over £88m of the £196m they had received for Neymar on Ousame Dembélé, it might also deny opportunities to squad members such as Denis Suárez. While there was little doubt that in the medium to long term he was a priority, Coutinho would also be unable to play in the Champions League this season.