Fierce La Liga rivals Real Madrid attempted to sabotage Barcelona's success in securing Philippe Coutinho with a monstrous £177m bid earlier this week, according to reports in Spain.
It was officially announced that the 25-year-old had joined the Catalans from Liverpool in a deal worth around £142m on Saturday evening, becoming the third most expensive transfer in history.
The Brazil international will watch his new side from the stands on Sunday afternoon when they return to La Liga action against Levante following their short winter break, however things could have been so different if Los Blancos were able to have their way.
Disappointed Coutinho has gone, never thought he’d turn into the players he’s become when I first played with him, but he’s been a great @LFC player these last few years. 142 million though! Just need to use the money better than we did when Suarez left!!
— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) January 6, 2018
According to Spanish news outlet Mundo Deportivo , Real attempted to hijack Barcelona in their long awaited securing of Coutinho at the 11th hour by tabling a bid themselves.
The offer from Zinedine Zidane's outfit is said to be over £30m greater than that of Barca's successful fee, with the figure of £177m reportedly offered in order to halt the former Reds' dream move.
However, the player is said to have rejected the option to link up with Cristiano Ronaldo and co. in favour of joining his preferred option of Ernesto Valverde's side.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 6, 2018
Coutinho could make his first appearance in a Barcelona shirt when the La Liga leaders take on Celta Vigo in the Copa del Rey midweek, but Guillem Balague believes the Brazilian has a long way to go before becoming the player Barca eventually want him to be; the next Andres Iniesta.
"Iniesta is getting old. It has been suggested that this is his last season at Barcelona with huge offers on the table from China", the Spanish journalist said, as quoted by the Daily Express.
"Barcelona need that type of quality in midfield. Coutinho is not Iniesta yet, in fact they seem him as more of a forward at the moment, but he can develop the skills needed.
When you go from playing with Henderson, Milner and Lovren to Messi, Iniesta, Suarez.. pic.twitter.com/RnRd0injTc
— GeniusFootball (@GeniusFootball) January 6, 2018
"At the beginning Coutinho won't have many defensive obligations without the ball but he'll have to learn those because they see him, in the medium term, as a midfielder.
"They think that for him to do so, he will have to understand the positional game of Barcelona, to do a bigger shift without the ball.
"At the moment what they need straight away is a replacement for Neymar, which they did not get [in the summer]."