Football news - Barcelona legend Hristo Stoichkov writes letter to convince Coutinho to stay
Former Barcelona forward Hristo Stoichkov has written an open letter to current star Coutinho in a bid to convince him to stay at the club despite rumours linking the Brazilian to a return to England.
Coutinho signed for the Catalan club in January 2018 in a £142million deal but has failed to consistently perform at the level that earned him the move from Liverpool.
The former forward praises the 26-year-old and compares his own experience of having a tough start to his time playing for the Blaugrana.
Stoichkov pleads Coutinho to 'not even think about joining another club', while labelling him as 'one of the best foreign players to have played for Barca'.
Barcelona's Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho (L) celebrates scoring the opening goal with Barcelona's Argentinian striker Lionel Messi during the Champions League group B football match match between Tottenham Hotspur and Barcelona at Wembley StadiuGetty Images
You can read the open letter in full below.
“I am writing these words to send you my most sincere support for the difficult moment you have been going through, although I'm sure there are a lot of players out there who would like to be in the same situation as you like when you scored those two vital goals against Sevilla in the Copa del Rey.
“And by the way, for the first goal, to have an incredible player like Messi asking you to take that penalty - a penalty which set the course for the rest of the tie. That's a task that only the very best players are asked to do.
“Barca isn't an easy club and during my first few months there, I suffered like you. I know how it feels when things aren't turning out how you want, but I'm convinced that with hard work and sacrifice you'll move forward because you have all the quality you need to do that. You are one of the best foreign players to have played for Barca.
“You've got a lot of football in you to give Barca and the only thing you should be thinking about is enjoying your game. Enjoy it like you do with Brazil. I tried to enjoy playing like I always did with Bulgaria and I ended up enjoying myself exactly the same with Barca.
“Never let yourself be disheartened because, from what I've seen, the fans are with you and want to see you succeed. Understand that they're the best fans in the world and they'll support you always - like they did with me.
“And besides, now's not the time to feel down, we have every reason to feel positive. Forget all about the draw against Valencia. It's starting to get tight at the top in La Liga, the Champions League is back and more than anything, we are about to face a month in which we'll have three games on the trot against our eternal rivals, Real Madrid, who we can never rule out.
“The Clasico is the best game in the world and you yourself know what it's like to score in one - it's a feeling which cannot be matched. We'll need you at your best to sew up the league and book our place in the Copa del Rey final - and even more so if the God of Football, Leo Messi is carrying a groin strain from the Valencia match.
“Lastly, a small favour. Please do not even think about joining another club, which is something I've read might happen in the press. There is no other club like ours. That's why they say it's more than a club. And anyway, you wouldn't find another club with mates like Messi, Suarez and Co. with whom you have a great time doing what you love most - playing football.
“I wish you all the best, with all of my heart, I am sure that you will make history at Barça. Keep your chin up! A big hug, Hristo.”