Philippe Coutinho may have to wait until February to make his Barcelona debut after the club revealed he is expected to be on the sidelines for around three weeks with a thigh injury.
Barca announced his injury via their official Twitter account:
FC Barcelona @FCBarcelona
[INJURY NEWS] @Phil_Coutinho has a thigh injury in his right leg. More details 👉 https://t.co/of1in1jKrw #CoutinhoDay https://t.co/jn7sWYXUcJ2018-1-8 11:31:41
The Brazilian joined the club on Saturday as their record signing in a £142 million deal, with his unveiling taking place on Monday following a medical.
The playmaker was left out of Liverpool's first two games in January, which furthered speculation he would be joining the Blaugrana, as it did when he failed to appear for the Reds during the summer transfer window because of a back injury.
Sky Sports' Kaveh Solhekol alluded to Coutinho's absences, while football writer Leanne Prescott believes he was faking the injuries:
Kaveh Solhekol @SkyKaveh
£142m? Imagine how much Coutinho would be worth if it wasn’t for those persistent back & thigh strains2018-1-6 20:58:09
Leanne Prescott @_lfcleanne
He left in a bad way having faked injuries, handing in a transfer request and reportedly refusing to play, but I’ll miss the brilliance that Coutinho brought on the pitch. Liverpool have to ensure that void is filled.2018-1-6 19:11:27
Per Rafael Hernandez of Blaugrana fan site Grup 14, Barcelona's announcement demonstrates the reason behind his absence from the Reds' recent games was genuine:
Rafael Hernández @RafaelH117
Coutinho wasn’t faking his injury. 20 days out.2018-1-8 11:40:33
Regardless, it's not ideal for his new club, though it could be worse.
The 25-year-old will miss the second leg of their Copa del Rey tie with Celta Vigo, as well as trips to Real Sociedad and Real Betis in La Liga. His absence also means he is a doubt for the clash with Alaves on January 28.
However, assuming his recovery goes as planned, Coutinho should be available for Barca's derby with Espanyol on February 4.
The playmaker is ineligible for the UEFA Champions League round-of-16 clash with Chelsea later that month, but his availability for Barcelona's league games will afford manager Ernesto Valverde more opportunity to rest and rotate his players for the European match.