Philippe Coutinho has finally sealed his move to Barcelona in a £145million transfer from Liverpool.
As our exclusive pictures and video show, the Brazil playmaker has travelled to Spain from London on Saturday evening to put the finishing touches to the deal.
Coutinho has a 400million euro (£355m) release clause in his five-and-a-half year Barcelona contract.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said Coutinho was ‘insistent with me, the owners and even his team-mates’ on being allowed to leave for Barcelona.
‘It is with great reluctance that we – as a team and club – prepare to say farewell to a good friend, a wonderful person and a fantastic player in Philippe Coutinho. It is no secret that Philippe has wanted this move to happen since July, when Barcelona first made their interest known,’ Klopp said.
‘Philippe was insistent with me, the owners and even his team-mates this was a move he was desperate to make happen.
‘Despite that, 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.
‘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.’
Barcelona confirmed the deal with a video showing Coutinho’s shirt hanging in a locker next to his new team-mates, before later sharing another unveiling clip of them following him on Twitter and Instagram.
It is the second most expensive transfer of all-time, behind his compatriot Neymar, who left Barcelona to join Paris Saint-Germain in a £198m move last summer.
It is also the biggest-ever fee for a player who did not have a release clause in their contract and represents a handsome profit for Liverpool, who signed Coutinho from Inter Milan for £8.5m in 2013.
The transfer will also break the record for a player sold by an English club, with Barcelona paying around £106m up front and the remainder in add-ons.
Barcelona had been prepared to pay £97.5m up front plus a further £35m in add-ons but Liverpool managed to squeeze more out of the Catalans after last week’s Nike website blunder that announced the Brazilian as a Barca player.
The add-ons will see Liverpool earn a further £17.7m once Coutinho has played 100 games, plus smaller payments of £4.4m for each of the first two Champions Leagues he qualifies for and the first two European titles he wins.
Coutinho could make his debut on Thursday in the Spanish Cup against Celta Vigo. He will not be able to play for Barcelona in the Champions League so participation both in the Copa del Rey and La Liga will be important for him ahead of this year’s World Cup.
His arrival allows Andres Iniesta – the player he has been bought to replace in the long-term – to rest for European competition. It also reunites him with Luis Suarez who he formed a close friendship with on Merseyside.