x

Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Philippe Coutinho must wait to make his Barcelona debut due to thigh injury

The Brazilian unveiled by the Primera Liga leaders as their player after completing his £142 million move from Liverpool.

New Barcelona signing Philippe Coutinho is carrying a thigh injury that will keep him out of action for another 20 days. David Ramos / Getty Images
New Barcelona signing Philippe Coutinho is carrying a thigh injury that will keep him out of action for another 20 days. David Ramos / Getty Images

Philippe Coutinho has completed his transfer from Liverpool to Barcelona - but will not be able to make his debut for three weeks due to injury.

Coutinho signed a five-and-a-half-year contract with Barca at Monday lunchtime to finalise a transfer that could be worth up to £142 million (Dh706.4m) to Liverpool.

However, Barca fans will have to wait to see their new signing in action after the Catalan giants announced he presented with a thigh injury during his medical this morning, which is set keep him sidelined for around 20 days.

Coutinho also missed both of Liverpool's opening two games in 2018 with a thigh problem.

The issue did not derail his move to the runaway Primera Liga leaders, though, and he put pen to paper on his contract before being officially welcomed to the club by president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

_________________________________________________________________________

Read more

Philippe Coutinho makes discreet landing as Barcelona fans revel in arrival of signing

Klopp's Liverpool should fill Coutinho-shaped hole collectively rather than with an individual

_________________________________________________________________________

Bartomeu said on his club's website: "We're delighted to present Philippe Coutinho, a player who we've tried to get to come and play for us since last summer.

"We knew it was not going to be easy to get him here, we've been talking and working for months on this but one of the important aspects was he wanted to come here. And he helped make an effort, and he was patient, and that was been key in him coming here.

"And I'm very pleased to announce the signing of one the world's star players and he will be here for many years.

"I also want to thank Liverpool, one of Europe's biggest clubs, for allowing him to leave and come here."

Making a brief comment before getting ready to head out on to the Nou Camp pitch for a photo shoot in front of the club's supporters, Coutinho said: "I want to thank the president and everyone who has made the transfer possible.

A post shared by FC Barcelona (@fcbarcelona) on

"I'm very happy, as I've said it was my dream. I hope to live up to expectations on the pitch."

Coutinho had said on Sunday he was excited about playing alongside Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta.

He described them as well as club stalwarts Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets as "idols".

Coutinho has already lined up alongside Suarez for 18 months at Liverpool before the Uruguayan made the same move to Spain in 2014.

"Everybody knows about his quality. He has been playing at the highest level for years now and that is important," Suarez said.

"Now we need to make sure he feels at home because we know that changing club is always difficult, but I think he is the type of player who will fit well into the team."

Ernesto Valverde, the Barcelona coach, admitted that it would be a challenge shoehorning his new recruit into a squad already running away with the Spanish league title.

"Coutinho is a player who I think can bring a lot to us," said Valverde. "He's an important signing."

A post shared by FC Barcelona (@fcbarcelona) on

"I have seen him play in various positions - on the right, the left, in the middle, on the wings. We will evaluate all of this ... but, of course, I don't think he will play as a goalkeeper!"

The timing of Barca's move for Coutinho had looked initially surprising because he will not be able to play in the Uefa Champions League this season having already played in the competition for Liverpool in the group stages.

But he is likely to be used to give 33-year-old Iniesta a rest, keeping the veteran midfielder fresh for the tournament, with Barca facing Chelsea in the last 16 next month.