Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho has denied that his celebration against Manchester United on Tuesday night was an angry message to his critics.
The Brazilian scored a lovely third goal for the Catalan club as they beat United 3-0 in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final meeting, the result seeing his side through to the next round. After scoring, he proceeded to place his fingers in his ears and stare defiantly at the Camp Nou crowd, a gesture that many interpreted as Coutinho responding to Barça supporters who have been incensed by rumours linking him with a summer exit.
His celebration against the Red Devils was considered disrespectful by some Barcelona fans, who hissed at manager Ernesto Valverde's decision to bring the 26-year-old on during Saturday's 2-1 La Liga victory over Real Sociedad.
However, Coutinho believes that the situation has arisen out of a misunderstanding from Blaugrana supporters. Speaking after the win over Sociedad, he stated (as quoted by the Liverpool Echo): "I have always been someone who respects everybody.
"The truth is that this (celebration) was for the people to see that I have to block out the sound in order to focus on a match or on my job so that it won’t affect me," he explained. "It was like a liberation."
Though there appears to be a growing rift between Coutinho and followers of the Spanish giants, the playmaker seemed hopeful of helping the club in their Champions League semi final tie against his former side Liverpool.
Asked about the match-up against his old teammates, Coutinho said: "It will be something special. I am anxious because I know that moment is coming."