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Coutinho, Barcelona and the significance of Nike


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While a move to Barcelona always seemed to be on the cards as soon as they registered their interest in Philippe Coutinho during the summer, it came as a slight surprise that the La Liga giants pushed through the big money transfer this month rather than the next window.

But the Brazilian has now left Liverpool for a deal that could reach the £140 million bracket, having arrived at Anfield from Inter Milan in a deal worth just £8.5 million.

You can listen back to Tim Vickery on the podcast player: 

South American football expert Tim Vickery to discuss the rise of Coutinho from an inconsistent performer to world class talent as well as some of the factors that led to his move to Barcelona.

"Remember, Inter Milan after having a long relationship with him virtually gave up on him, virtually gave him away in 2013 and it was at Liverpool that he regained momentum in his career," said Vickery of Coutinho's more uncertain days in his pre-Liverpool career.

Presentation of Philippe Coutinho as a new player of FC Barcelona, in Barcelona, on January 08, 2018. (Photo by Urbanandsport/NurPhoto/Sipa USA)

Having resurrected his career, Barcelona's on-field interest makes sense as a successor to current Barca club captain Andres Iniesta. But Coutinho will be cup-tied for the Champions League between now and May, whereas that complication would not have existed if the club had waited to do a deal until the summer.

Vickery discussed the Nike factor, with the sportswear giants sponsoring both the Brazil national team, Coutinho and Barcelona, who are the most popular foreign club in the South American country. With Nike-sponsored Neymar having left last summer and this being a World Cup year too, there's added significance.

"Remember Nike did their homework but they tried first with basketball as a global game. That didn't work. They saw that it was football and they saw that they really needed Brazil  - this was in 1996-97 - because Brazil were so globally popular and everyone's second favourite team," said Vickery.

"And it was just a year later that the relationship with Barcelona started. They saw that Barcelona had the potential to be everyone's second favourite team  worldwide and there you've got a team that unlike Brazil, who play now and again and a great deal during World Cups, you get Barcelona playing twice a week. 

"So if you've got the world's most popular national team and the world's most popular club, there's an obvious synergy that you want to develop there and it's done very well for them with Brazilian star after Brazilian star at Barcelona."


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