Welcome to Barcelona, Phil! Messi rolls out the red carpet for Coutinho

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The Argentine put on another super show as Ernesto Valverde's side returned to 4-3-3 and gave their new record signing a taste of what is to come

Philippe Coutinho will have to wait for his Barcelona debut, but the Catalan club's record signing was given a glimpse of what is to come on Sunday.

The Brazilian completed a €160 million move to Barca from Liverpool on Saturday  and is expected to undergo a thorough medical examination on Monday, with a return to action later this month as he recovers from a minor injury.

The 25-year-old was not at Camp Nou as Barca beat Levante 3-0, but he will have been watching his new team on television - and he will have been impressed with what he saw.

Barca clicked quickly back into gear following the winter break, having rested most of their first-team players for the Copa del Rey clash away to Celta Vigo on Thursday night.

Barcelona Levante final score

For this one, Ernesto Valverde picked a strong side, with Ousmane Dembele back in the line-up for his first start since September, alongside both Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

It was Messi's link-up with Jordi Alba, an impressive feature of Barca's play this season, which brought the first goal as the Argentine attacker volleyed in off the post with a typically fine finish.

Messi broke the lines time and again with his passing, some of his deliveries delicious in their execution. He may be scoring at a slightly lower rate than in times gone by, but he is so complete these days and Coutinho must be purring at the prospect of playing alongside the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

A return to form for Suarez is also good news for Barca. The Uruguayan missed a clear chance in the first half as he smashed a shot onto the top of the bar when it appeared simpler to score, but later netted with an acrobatic effort to continue his recent improvement.

Suarez has now scored in six of his last seven league games for Barcelona (with eight goals in those matches), having only found the net in two of his previous seven. The South American striker, a former team-mate of Coutinho at Liverpool and also a friend of the Brazilian, looks likely to benefit from the arrival of Phil, as well as the return to 4-3-3 after Valverde's use of 4-4-2 while Dembele was out injured.

GFX Coutinho Barca

Luis Suarez Barcelona Levante

Dembele had his moments too and showed silky skills on occasions, while he also tested Levante's former Barca goalkeeper Oier Olazabal with a fierce drive from the edge of the area. At the age of 20, however, he is still not the finished article and will need time to reach his best after a lengthy layoff.

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Coutinho is much more advanced at 25 and although he cannot play for Barca in the Champions League this season after already featuring for Liverpool in the competition, he will provide strength in depth and allow Valverde to rest Andres Iniesta in midfield in the second half of the campaign.

The Brazilian's arrival could also free Messi to spend more time further forward, just as he did on Sunday when he created havoc in the Levante area by evading several defenders before somehow managing to tee up Ivan Rakitic for a shot that sailed just wide.

And right at the end, more Messi magic in the box freed space for Paulinho to score a third as Barca picked up where they left off in La Liga following the winter break. The Blaugrana start 2018 in commanding form and Coutinho can only make them even stronger still.

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