Belfast Telegraph

Barcelona new boy Philippe Coutinho: I will always cherish Liverpool in my heart

New Barcelona signing Philippe Coutinho has told Liverpool fans he hopes they understand why he left for the Nou Camp in a £142million switch.

The 25-year-old Brazilian's five-year stint at Anfield ended at the weekend when Barca finally struck an agreement with the Reds, making Coutinho the second most-expensive player of all time after they were paid an initial £105m up front.

Liverpool had rejected Barca's bids last summer, despite Coutinho's desire to force through the transfer, but having finally sealed his move in this window the outgoing playmaker has posted a message to Reds supporters on his Instagram account.

"Since the moment I arrived in Liverpool, me and my family have been made to feel so welcome and have made so many friends," he wrote.

"On the pitch and off the pitch, we have experienced the beauty of this club and its fans. In turn, I hope I have delivered memories and moments that have brought happiness to the Liverpool supporters.

"Moving to Liverpool, I knew the club's greatness and history but what I did learn during my time was the unique heart and soul of the place. It has its own personality and character.

"I leave Liverpool because Barcelona is a dream for me. Liverpool was a dream that I was fortunate enough to realise and I have given five years of my life to it. A career on the pitch only lasts for so long and to play for Barcelona as well as Liverpool is something I want to experience and enjoy while I am blessed enough to be able to do so.

"I hope the supporters understand that choosing to experience something new is not about diminishing their importance to me or the club's importance. Nothing will ever diminish that in my heart.

"I wish Jurgen (Klopp) and the team nothing but joy and success for the rest of this season and beyond. This is an amazing team and they are getting better and better all the time."

Coutinho ended the post by addressing Reds supporters directly, adding: "I can never thank you enough for what you have given me during this time and no matter where I go in the world, for the rest of my life, I will always cherish Liverpool in my heart. You, the club and the city will always be a part of me."

Barcelona's latest signing was unveiled on Monday but a thigh injury that kept him out of Liverpool's last two games will also delay his debut for his new club.

In another Instagram post that contained multiple images of him in a Barca shirt, Coutinho said: "A Dream Come True thank you Barcelona. I can't wait to start my journey with you!"

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