When a club like Barcelona shells out a jaw-dropping £162 million to sign a player and make him the second most expensive footballer in the world, surely the player has to be really special. And without a doubt, Philippe Coutinho is indeed a superlative talent.
Born in the Brazilian capital of Rio de Janeiro, on 12 June 1992, Coutinho joined the youth academy of Vasco da Gama in 1999, having started out playing futsal with his elder brothers in his neighbourhood. The playmaker thrived in the academy and was making huge waves at a very young age, prompting Italian Serie A side Inter Milan to sign him in 2008, at the age of 16.
Inter allowed Coutinho to continue his development on loan at Vasco da Gama, where he made 43 appearances in 2009 and 2010, scoring five goals. Having returned to Inter in 2010, he made his debut for the club in August in the UEFA Super Cup loss to Atletico Madrid and struggled to establish himself as a first-team player over the next year or so.
In January 2012, Coutinho was loaned out Spanish side Espanyol, where he impressed, scoring 5 goals in 16 games, before returning to Inter at the end of the season. Seemingly impressed by what he had done, Premier League giants Liverpool signed him up in January next year and it is here where a youngster with potential was transformed into a star.
Coutinho enthralled the Liverpool faithful and the Premier League fans with his natural flair, pace, dribbling abilities and those amazing long-range strikes which he could pull out of the drawer whenever he wanted to. Under the guidance of Jurgen Klopp, the Brazilian took his game to a whole new level and established himself as one of the best creative players in the game at the moment.
Coutinho's meteoric rise at Anfield did not go unnoticed, as giants like Barcelona, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain all began circling around to sign him. Eventually, after having made 201 appearances for the Reds in which he scored 54 times, the Brazilian joined Barcelona in January 2018 for a club-record £162 million fee, following a long drawn out saga.
Coutinho, despite all his brilliance at Liverpool, failed to get his hands on even a single major silverware, something that he will be hoping to address at his new club.