New FC Barcelona recruit, Brazilian Philippe Coutinho has been offered jersey Number 14 worn by Javier Mascherano whose contract with the Catalan giants ended wednesday.
He is bound for the big pay in the Chinese Super League as Barcelona declined to offer him any fresh contract.
The official website of the club, www.fcbarcelona.com confirmed the development yesterday and it is expected that Coutinho, who was involved in the second most expensive transfer deal of all time will make his debut for the club this evening in the return leg of the Copa dey Rey quarter final game at Camp Nou.
There has been debate in the public space on the jersey number the Brazilian midfielder will wear between the vacant Number 7 previously registered for Arda Turan who has moved to Turkey and the number 14 relinquished by Mascherano.
The Spanish club yesterday chronicled all the former great stars that have played in that Number 14 jersey to include former Nigerian international, Emmanuel Amuneke. Other former great Barcelona stars like, Jordi Cruyff, Gerard Lopez and Thierry Henry wore that shirt.
In his reaction yesterday to the news of Coutinho also assigned that shirt, Amuneke told THISDAY last night from his new base in Sudan that he wished the young Brazilian all the best in his new challenge.
He however warned that he (Coutinho) must be ready to face the pressure from the crowd who will always demand much from him all the time.
“I wish he could take off on a good note before the cules (supporters) at Camp Nou pile pressure on him,” stressed Amuneke who played two and half seasons at the Spanish club.
Amuneke admitted that the Brazilian: “Is a good player going by his records at Liverpool and in the national team but must be ready to face fresh challenges at Barcelona. He desires the move to Spain and finally he got it, then he must be prepared for it.”
Coutinho will be the 7th Blaugrana to wear the Number 14 and it will be a first for the Brazilian as he has worn the numbers 7, 10, 23, 29 and 30 previously in his career.