Monday, 19 August 2019

How Philippe Coutinho's £145m Barcelona dream fell apart

It should have been the moment Philippe Coutinho finally won over the Nou Camp, instead it was the moment he lost the Barcelona fans forever. 

His goal against Manchester United was the Brazilian at his brilliant best. Few players can conjure those top-corner curlers from the edge of the area with so little time and space. 

But instead of celebrating with joy he chose to use the moment to show his displeasure. 

After a brief moment of congratulations from team-mates he stood still in one of the greatest sports arenas in the world and soured his best moment in a Barcelona shirt by closing his eyes and sticking his fingers in his ears. 

He changed the story in an instant. Instead of being asked about the goal after the game Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde was asked about the gesture. 

He said: 'I would rather concentrate on what he did on the pitch tonight, not the little details.' But it was too late for that.

The image would be shown over and over on the football debate shows that following week in Spain.

'Great goal, ugly celebration' ended up as the headline in Barcelona paper 'Diario Sport' and they cited lip readers claiming he said: 'Vai a tomar no cu' as he put his fingers in his ears – a Portuguese phrase tantamount to 'f*** you'.

It was suggested afterwards that his little protest had been aimed at the media and not at the supporters but the fans did not see it that way - in their coliseum he had failed to celebrate with them. He also failed to acknowledge them as he walked off when substituted.


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