Coutinho
Coutinho in action for Barcelona and after signing for the club. Source: Instagram @phil.coutinho

Coutinho became La Liga’s most expensive transfer ever when he ditched Liverpool for Barcelona after forcing through a move, alienating himself from the Anfield faithful along the way.

La Liga has seen some of the most mind-boggling transfer fees in recent times, with names such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Eden Hazard breaking the record transfer fees paid by Spanish clubs numerous times over the years.

Being a professional footballer comes with inevitable pressure, what with the demands of the game and pressure to deliver and play well with the fans breathing down your neck every time you misplace a pass or the pressure of being left out of the starting lineup altogether.

But what happens when you are the most expensive player ever in the entire history of the league, the added pressures can be immense.

Coutinho the young prospect

Philippe Coutinho started his career at Vasco da Gama’s youth system where he was eventually called up to the Brazilian under-15 squad following eye-catching performances for the youth squad.

The exciting youngster was then signed by Italian giants Inter Milan in 2008 for €4 million, at the tender age of 16, remaining with Vasco on loan for 2 more years before making the move to Italy because FIFA prohibited the international transfers of footballers before they reach 18-years-old.

He became a first-team player despite only being a teenager and won the Serie B title in 2009, making 12 appearances and helping Vasco achieve promotion back into the Serie A.

The following year, Coutinho played 31 games and scored 5 goals as he established himself in the squad.

Life at the San Siro

Coutinho finalized his move to Inter Milan once he turned 18 and played under former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez, with the chairman of the club Massimo Moratti calling him the “future of Inter”.

He made his debut for his new team in the 2-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid in the Uefa Super Cup in 2010, coming on as a substitute. He was then dropped but then came back to play in a 3-2 win over Bayern Munich in the Uefa Champions League Round of 16, where they knocked out the Germans.

He then scored his first goal for the Italian side in a 3-1 win against Fiorentina, where he curled a free-kick over the wall and into the goal.

However, he then struggled for form and was loaned to Espanyol, a Spanish club in La Liga for the remainder of the season, before returning to Milan, struggling to find playing time at the San Siro, playing just 10 games and scoring 2 goals.

Anfield beckons

Coutinho then joined Liverpool on 26 January 2013 in an £8.5 million transfer, donning the iconic number 10 shirt.

Liverpool’s former director of football Damien Comolli later revealed that Liverpool signed Coutinho after being recommended by their former manager and then-boss of Inter Milan, Rafael Benitez, who said that the playmaker was world-class.

Coutinho made his debut for Liverpool in a 2-0 defeat to West Brom at home, coming on as a substitute for Stewart Downing in the 77th minute. He scored his first goal for them in a 5-0 win over Swansea City on 17 February that year and ended the season with 3 goals in 13 matches.

Throughout his time at Anfield, Coutinho played a total of 201 games and scored 54 goals for them, becoming an irreplaceable cog in the Liverpool engine; however, controversy would soon arise with Barcelona advertising his name on a Barcelona jersey, with the playmaker still a Liverpool player at the time.

He forced through a move to the Spanish giants and soon fell out of favour with the Liverpool fans, who branded him a traitor for the acrimonious manner in which he left the club.

Coutinho the enemy of Anfield

Liverpool confirmed his transfer to Barcelona for an initial fee of £105 million, with the price tag potentially rising to £142 million if certain clauses are met, effectively making him the most expensive player in La Liga history.

Coutinho made his debut for Barcelona in a 2-0 win against Espanyol in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals, replacing legend Andres Iniesta in the 68th minute of the game.

He then scored his first goal for the Catalans against Valencia in the Copa del Rey semi-finals via an assist from his fellow former-Liverpool teammate Luis Suarez after coming on as a substitute at half-time.

However, he soon fell out of favor at the club and was loaned out to Bayern Munich, where he then returned to face Barcelona in the Champions League quarterfinal, scoring 2 goals and creating an assist against Barcelona (who still owned him) and knocking them out.

He then went on to play in the Champions League final and helped Bayern beat PSG 1-0 in the final, completing a historic treble of trophies: The Bundesliga, the DFB-Pokal, and the Champions League title.

He then returned to Barcelona to play under Ronald Koeman (who has since been sacked) and suffered a knee injury in a 1-1 draw with Eibar, which ruled him out of the remainder of the season.

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