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Coutinho responds to claims he refused to come on for Barcelona

The incident occurred in the first half at Balaidos

FC Barcelona v Deportivo Alaves - La Liga Santander Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Barcelona’s Philippe Coutinho has responded to claims of unprofessionalism after Saturday’s 3-3 draw with Celta Vigo in La Liga.

Coutinho was asked to warm up by interim coach Sergi Barjuan and looked set to replace the injured Ansu Fati shortly before half-time at Balaidos.

However, the substitution didn’t happen with Barjuan sending on Alejandro Balde at half-time instead, while Coutinho didn’t feature at all and spent the game on the bench.

There had been rumors the Brazilian refused to come on and also claims that Barjuan decided not to send him on because he was not impressed with his attitude after being asked to warm-up.

Coutinho, who is now on international duty with Brazil, spoke about the issue at a news conference on Monday and offered his side of the story.

“I was very surprised when I saw the news because in all my career I have never been unprofessional, they can look wherever I went, I always respected everyone. Journalists always believe a lot of things.

The 29-year-old also spoke about the return of Xavi as Barcelona coach and how he’s feeling after returning from knee surgery.

“Xavi was a great player, a great football idol. And now he is back home in Barcelona. I hope he can be very successful with the group we have. I was able to talk to him once when I visited some doctors in Qatar, I know he is a great man.

“It was not easy to be out for so long but I feel very good. Physically I’m well and I have no pain or problems, now what I need is time to find my best level.

“Since I returned I did not have a sequence of 4 or 5 games from the beginning to be able to reach my best level, get match fit.”

Coutinho has struggled to make any impact at all for Barcelona this season and will be hoping for game time with Brazil. The Selecao play World Cup qualifiers against Colombia and Argentine over the international break.