Philippe Coutinho se convierte oficialmente en jugador del Barça
Coutinho must live up to cost, legacy of Barca’s Brazilians

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BARCELONA.- El brasileño Philippe Coutinho ya es oficialmente nuevo jugador del Barcelona, después de firmar el contrato que le ligará a la entidad azulgrana hasta junio de 2023.

En un acto que ha tenido lugar en el antepalco del Camp Nou, Coutinho y el presidente del Barcelona, Josep Maria Bartomeu, firmaron sendos contratos.

Coutinho, de 25 años, el fichaje más caro de la historia del club (120 millones de euros fijos y 40 en variables), ha posado posteriormente con la camiseta del Barça, aunque aún no se ha desvelado el dorsal que lucirá.

Tras la firma, Bartomeu ha recordado que el fichaje de Coutinho lo ha perseguido el Barça desde hace meses. “Lo estuvimos intentando el verano pasado. Hacía tiempo que sabíamos que era necesario que viniera”, ha dicho.

Posteriormente el presidente del Barça se ha dirigido al jugador y le ha agradecido su apuesta por el club azulgrana: “Muchas gracias por aceptar estar aquí, por venir al Barça. Sabes que eres un jugador que hemos buscado (desde hace tiempo) y queremos agradecerte tu determinación y ganas por venir”.

El jugador saltará al césped del Camp Nou vestido de futbolista y será presentado ante los aficionados que se han citado en el estadio barcelonista. Después ofrecerá una conferencia de prensa en el Auditori 1899.

English

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Philippe Coutinho arrives at Barcelona bearing both his huge price tag and the legacy of the long line of Brazilian stars who have dazzled at Camp Nou.

The comparisons will be constant with Neymar, whose world-record move to Paris Saint-Germain in August provided Barcelona with the up to 160 million euros ($192 million) it needed to acquire Coutinho at a cost that would have seemed ludicrous just six months before. Only Neymar and PSG teammate Kylian Mbappe surpass it.

But while Neymar, as before him Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Ronaldo and Romario, all became fan favorites by starring in Barcelona’s attack, Coutinho will have to measure up to the Spanish club’s long line of top-notch — and largely homegrown — midfielders.

The 25-year-old Coutinho comes to Spain charged with the daunting task of one day taking over as its midfield leader with Andres Iniesta entering the twilight of his career at age 33.

Coutinho can count on the big advantage of setting up Lionel Messi for goals as he strives to justify the club-record fee Barcelona agreed to pay on Saturday, when it finally pried him away from Liverpool after the English club had refused to let him go in the summer.

Even though coach Ernesto Valverde has successfully kept Barcelona winning after predictions of decline abounded following the unwanted departure of Neymar, Coutinho will greatly increase his options in a midfield that is still heavily reliant on Iniesta for its playmaking spark.

His signing signals Barcelona’s intention to refocus on the patch of the pitch that has defined its passing style for decades, an emphasis that had slipped somewhat in recent years with Neymar, Messi and Luis Suarez forming a powerful attack, albeit sometimes at the expense of its ability to dominate possession.