Philippe Coutinho, the $192m new signing by Barcelona did not wear any numbered jersey during his presentation to about 7,500 fans at Camp Nou today. But multiple reports said the Brazilian playmaker who is nursing a thigh injury will most likely wear the No 14 shirt.
According to The Independent of London, the shirt was recently vacated by another former Red, Javier Mascherano, who will complete a move to China imminently.
The British paper said the shirt was also made famous by the late Johan Cruyff, who made it his trademark throughout his career and played for Barcelona between 1973 and 1978, switching between No 14 and No 9, scoring 48 goals in 143 games and winning both La Liga and the Copa del Rey in the process.
At the presentation, Coutinho said he is targeting titles at Barcelona.
According to a report on Barcelona’s website, the new player was careful in juggling the ball, due to an injury on the anterior rectum of his right thigh.
Nevertheless, he participated in a rondo with eight young players from FCBEscola, and was handed the keys to a new Audi car.
Coutinho commented: “I am very happy about the affection from the fans. It is a dream come true and I hope to answer all their expectations on the field.” Before leaving the Camp Nou pitch, the player had photographs taken with several fans
The Brazilian signed a five-year contract in a ceremony sitting alongside Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu, making him the third-most expensive player in history.
“It’s an honour for me, a great honour, but also a dream to be here,” Coutinho said after posing on the Camp Nou pitch in a Barcelona shirt.
“I have my goals; to get here, to be happy, win titles and have fun — I only think about that.”
Minutes before the midfielder put pen to paper after a whirlwind few days, the club said a thigh injury would delay his debut until the end of January.
The runaway La Liga leaders also claimed that Liverpool had cut their original asking price from 200 million euros, after a long-running transfer saga dating back to the summer window.
“Due to a contractual issue and due to Liverpool’s desire, we cannot provide the exact figures, but there has been a very significant reduction (in price),” said Barcelona vice-president Jordi Mestre.
Barca’s swoop for Coutinho is outranked only by Paris Saint-Germain’s stunning world record 222 million-euro signing of Neymar from Barcelona last year, and the Paris club’s capture of French striker Kylian Mbappe in a deal which will be worth 180 million euros when the teenager completes his initial loan deal later this year.
Coutinho’s arrival will help Barcelona move on from the humiliation of losing Neymar, and his presence alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez will help take the pressure off another of the club’s stars, 33-year-old midfielder Andres Iniesta.