Pique Defends Booed Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho’s huge transfer fee is complicating his life at Barcelona, according to Gerard Pique.

Brazil international Coutinho made way for Ivan Rakitic 10 minutes from time to a mixed reaction in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Rayo Vallecano at Camp Nou, with the Croatia midfielder going on to set up Luis Suarez’s game-sealing third.

Coutinho has endured patchy fortunes at Barca since his €160million switch from Liverpool last season and might well be pressed into action again in next week’s Champions League last-16 showdown with Lyon after Ousmane Dembele reportedly suffered a hamstring problem.

“Philippe is having a good season,” Pique told reporters after cancelling out Raul de Tomas’ opener for Rayo.

“Obviously his cost was very high, so that means there are more expectations of his performance level.

“It is what it is. We have to accept the reaction of the fans because they are our followers but from the inside we have to give him our support.

“We need him at his best for the end of the season and I’m sure he will be.”

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