Philippe Coutinho handed new Barcelona shirt number to hint at future role

Philippe Coutinho has been given the No.14 shirt at Barcelona ahead of the new La Liga season in what looks like confirmation that he will stay at the club.

The Brazilian attacking midfielder spent last season on loan at Bayern Munich, winning the Bundesliga and Champions League with the German giants and scoring two goals against his parent club in the infamous 8-2 victory in the quarter-final stage of the competition.

There was speculation earlier on in the summer that he could be set for a move to the likes of Arsenal, but Barca's new manager Ronald Koeman is believed to be a big fan of Coutinho, and plans to make him an important part of his team.

And ahead of their first game of the new campaign against Villarreal on Sunday Barca have revealed that Coutinho will don the No.14 shirt.

14 is the same number he wore when he first joined the club from Liverpool mid-way through the 2017-18 campaign, but he changed to No.7 in the following campaign.

During his spell at Bayern he took the No.10, but now he has returned to Catalonia his previously held 7 is to be taken by Antoine Griezmann.

Nevertheless, 14 is a number which has been worn by some legendary players at Barcelona, such as Javier Mascherano, Thierry Henry, while it also had a special significance for the late great Johan Cruyff.

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It suggests that Coutinho will have a big part to play in the upcoming campaign, and has dealt a blow to Arsenal, who had maintained some hope they could make a late bid to try to tempt Barcelona to sell the player.

Speaking about his future recently following a friendly against Elche, Coutinho said: "I'm looking forward to a good time.

"I am very motivated. I want to work hard this year so that everything goes well on the pitch."

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