“We didn’t even know how to tell him”. This sentence from one of Philippe Coutinho’s relatives makes clear how disappointed the Brazilian was at the fact his transfer to Barça didn’t go through. “We still don’t understand why Liverpool didn’t want to sell him,” they added.
Head down and devastated, Coutinho will try to focus on Brazil’s game against Colombia tomorrow. And then he will have to do what he had hoped not to – return to Liverpool.
When Tite, Brazil’s manager, sent Coutinho to warm up during Brazil’s match against Ecuador, it was an ominous sign for Barça. The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) had not wanted to get involved in the cold war between Liverpool and Barcelona – to protect their relationship with Liverpool, where forward Roberto Firminho also plays and to protect Coutinho, who is one of Tite’s favourites.
His first game was supposed to be tomorrow in Colombia –after the transfer window had shut and it was known exactly where he would be playing next season. The fact he was warming up suggested his future had been decided. In fact, Coutinho had been told a few hours before.
Coutinho did speak to the press in the mixed zone – only to the CBF’s television channel. Neither did Paulinho, which surprised many. But Barça’s new signing wanted to avoid talking about his Brazilian teammate Coutinho, who he shares an agent with.
On Thursday, Coutinho was with his two brothers – Leandro and Cristian – and his parents. They knew things weren’t looking good – they didn’t want to say anything but their faces told the story. After the Brazil-Ecuador, Coutinho went for dinner with his family. But the mood was funereal, Coutinho only smiled when Gabriel Jesus explained the build-up to Coutinho’s goal on CBF TV.
On the Friday, Coutinho was not involved in Barça’s last minute negotiations. He had gone to sleep convinced he would have to stay at Liverpool and stayed away from Barça’s supposed frantic efforts to sign him.
At 16:00 SPORT published before anyone else that he wouldn’t be signing for Barça, and at 20:00 his agents confirmed the news to the Brazilian website chuteirafc.com.br.
When the transfer window shut, Brazil were on their way to the airport to cross the country to Manaos. Coutinho had his head bowed. In Manaos, the Brazil squad trained over the weekend before flying to Barranquilla in Colombia. Over the weekend, he received the unconditional support of the management team and his teammates, including Neymar.
Neymar temporarily put aside his dispute with Barça over bonus payments to say “This should be a happy time for him and his family but it’s a moment of anguish, disappointment and sadness. I wish Coutinho the best, I like to see him happy because he is a good friend who I’ve known for a long time. When I see him sad, I’m sad too,” he added.