Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho has insisted he has no desire to play in China or Spain, and has proclaimed Anfield the only home for him.
The 24-year-old put pen to paper on a new five-year deal that makes him Liverpool’s highest earner earlier this week, paying him in the region of £150,000 per week.
And the Brazilian playmaker told the Daily Mail he jumped at the chance to sign such a lucrative deal despite reported interest from Spanish giants Barcelona and clubs in the Chinese Super League.
“No need to wait. I know. I live this every day, I can smell it. I see the ambition of the club, my teammates, the manager. I am living it, seeing it. Wait to sign? No. No. Now is the right time,” Coutinho said.
“I understand what Liverpool means. We can say [Kenny] Dalglish, [Ian] Rush, [Alan] Hansen, [Graeme] Souness, [Luis] Suarez, [Steven] Gerrard. I’ve been here quite a few years already, it’s not like I am new. I understand.
“To have signed a new contract at this club, my goal is to be thought of one day in the same way as these players. They are legends. You define the success of a player by his loyalty or his titles. Or both. In order to be part of this group, I have so much to do.
“I want to win titles. Five years is my new contract … it gives me that opportunity.”
And Coutinho was quick to explain he has no interest in joining fellow countryman Oscar — who left Chelsea for Shanghai SIPG in a £60 million move this month — in search of China’s mega-riches.
“China, no. I am not interested. I don’t think about that, not for one moment. My football is here. My heart is here. I don’t think about any other club. Not at all,” he said.
Coutinho’s improved Liverpool deal would reportedly make him the fifth-best paid player on Barca’s roster, behind only Lionel Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta.
However the former Vasco da Gama, Inter Milan and Espanyol man cited the freedom he enjoys at Liverpool, as well as the club’s ambition, as reason for his decision to stay.
“I believe in finding somewhere you can express yourself, play without fear, play with everything you have,” Coutinho said. “When you find that place, stay. This club, Liverpool, it has a plan. To be back on the top and that’s what I believe in. I want to be part of that.
“From the owner, the manager, my teammates. There is nothing that stops us competing with the big clubs. Clubs in England. Clubs in Europe. Yes, clubs like Barcelona. Why not?”
He added: “This is a great club. I remember how helpful everyone was when I first came to England, like a family. They made me welcome, comfortable. They removed any obstacles, they allowed me to think first about football and second about football. I remember that.
“For certain, I am comfortable here, my family is comfortable here. No doubts.”