At Monday lunchtime, Philippe Coutinho will be officially unveiled as a Barcelona player. He will do a few kick-ups, and hope not to completely embarrass himself in the process for the sake of 10-second clips on Twitter.
The Brazilian will become the second-most expensive footballer in history behind compatriot Neymar, which makes the Daily Mail’s exclusive from Lee Clayton all the more impressive. Their head of sport was granted access to Coutinho and his family on their journey from Liverpool to Spain. Here are all the best bits from the interview.
* The first snippet is provided by former and future teammate, Luis Suarez. With Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu trying to sort accommodation for Coutinho and his family in Spain, he asked Suarez about hotels in the area. The Uruguayan’s response? “No, presidente, there is no need for a hotel. I already have a house for him…”
It is revealed that Suarez has signed for a property ‘in the Bellemar neighbourhood of Castelldefels’ – a beach town along the Barcelona coast. Suarez will be one of his neighbours, Lionel Messi another. Which pleases Suarez, as he has “great security”.
* With Liverpool now having to find someone to fill Coutinho’s No. 10 shirt, as well as their already vacant No. 3, attention turns to what number Coutinho will take at Barcelona. Messi already owns the No. 10 shirt, and Coutinho has no designs on taking it.
“No! No! No! There is only one No 10 at Barcelona. He is the best player in the world, the ultimate No 10,” Coutinho says.
In fact, Coutinho has no request as to which number he is given. He will take any number, ‘no complaints’.
* Clayton says that Pedro Obiang’s thunderous effort for West Ham against Tottenham last Thursday was met with ‘shouts of appreciation’ as the game was watched in a private room in London. Discussion then turns to Dele Alli – ‘a player highly appreciated in these circles’. Lovely.
Lucas Leiva then phones via FaceTime to wish his friend good luck. Even bloody lovelier.
* Another revealing insight is that Liverpool requested for Coutinho to return to the club on loan for the rest of the season. ‘Coutinho is, after all, cup-tied for the Champions League. Financially, this would have worked out favourably. Joorabchian points out that Liverpool’s owners did everything in their power to keep the player.’
But Barcelona rejected the request out of hand, with Coutinho suggesting he was not too keen on the idea either.
* What follows is an image of Coutinho sitting in front of a TV – far too close, and his eyes will almost certainly turn square – while cheering Liverpool on in the FA Cup third round Merseyside derby. The Brazilian praises the signing of Virgil van Dijk, hails Mohamed Salah, says he is looking forward to seeing the Reds win trophies without him, and admits he “would not have left for any other club”.
Van Dijk’s late derby winner ‘brings him to his feet’. Let’s hope he didn’t suffer another injury as a result.
* Upon Coutinho and his family’s landing in Spain, he receives phone calls of congratulations from two Brazil teammates, David Luiz and Willian. They must have been two vastly different conversations.