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Spain: Barça rolls out to welcome Coutinho

Ⓒ AFP – Josep LAGO – | Messi, Paulinho (D) and Suarez in Barcelona’s home win against Levante in the 18th round of the Spanish league on 7 January 2018

Red carpet for Philippe Coutinho! FC Barcelona rallied against Levante (3-0) on Sunday to maintain a strong lead in the Spanish league and best host the Brazilian offensive midfielder, who arrived on Saturday from Liverpool after an astronomical transfer.

While Coutinho must be presented Monday and wait a few days to play his first game, the Barcelonans were not distracted by the transfer window: on the 18th day, they have imposed on a volley Lionel Messi (12th), a deflected turn of Luis Suarez (38th) and Paulinho’s goal on a Messi offering (90th + 2).

Moreover, although present in Barcelona, ​​Coutinho was not in a platform at Camp Nou to observe his new partners. As if the Catalan club did not wish to disrupt the beautiful mechanics of an undefeated team this season in Liga and firmly installed at the top of the ranking.

With this success, Barça (1st, 48 pts) keeps nine lengths ahead of Atletico Madrid (2nd, 39 pts) and eleven on Valencia (3rd, 37 pts). Real Madrid (4th, 31 pts) was moving to Vigo Sunday night to avoid being left behind (20:45 / 19:45 GMT).

Given his current great momentum, what need did Barcelona have to spend so much on Coutinho? According to the Spanish press, the club had to pay 120 M EUR + 40 M EUR bonus for the Brazilian international (25 years), the third most expensive transfer in history.

– Coutinho to stay at the top –

But it is precisely to stay at the top that Barça requires the small offensive midfielder: famous for its training center that hatched a golden generation (Messi, Iniesta, Xavi, Busquets …), Barça saw the The influx of young shoots dried up and ran the risk of aging with its managers, most of them in their thirties.

In addition, the money is not a problem for one of the richest clubs in the world (EUR 708 million turnover in 2016/17), which has strong TV rights revenues (EUR 146 million in 2016). -2017) or in marketing, which also cashed 222 million EUR by letting Neymar escape to Paris SG last summer.

The Spanish media report that Messi has recently agreed to extend until 2021, but also because he has obtained assurances that Barça will remain competitive.

With Coutinho, it will undoubtedly be the case. But while waiting for the integration of the Brazilian, arrived injured with a thigh and probably still unavailable ten to fifteen days, the other key recruit of Barça is called Ousmane Dembélé.

The French winger, transferred from Dortmund in August for 105 M EUR + 42 M EUR bonus, saw its integration slowed down by a serious injury. But he resumed the competition this week and he was relaunched as early as Sunday.

– A Marseillaise for Dembélé –

Ⓒ AFP – Josep LAGO – | Dembélé ball on foot for FC Barcelona during the match against Levante in the 18th day of the championship of Spain on January 7, 2018

“Dembouz”, sometimes awkward, has sent two hot strikes (14th, 25th). And before going out under the ovation of Camp Nou (67th), who reserved a Marseillaise, the French was involved in opening the scoring.

He shifted at the start of the action Sergi Roberto before Messi, served by Jordi Alba, sends a volley from the left entrance with the help of the post (12th). This is the 16th goal in 18 Liga matches this season for the “pichichi” (top scorer) Messi, a decisive passer-by for Paulinho late in the game.

If Levante had opportunities, forcing the excellent Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen to work (47th, 65th), Barça had previously sheltered on a superb Suarez sequence: left-foot control, volley right foot deflected in the skylight by an opponent (38th).

In short, a fearless afternoon for the Catalans, who can now turn to the big business of the beginning of the week: the presentation of Philippe Coutinho, expected Monday at midday at Camp Nou after the traditional medical visit and the signature his lucrative contract.

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