Soccer-Vasco sell 16-year-old Coutinho to Inter

RIO DE JANEIRO, July 23 (Reuters) - Vasco da Gama have sold 16-year-old midfielder Philippe Coutinho to Inter Milan before he has even made his professional debut.

Vasco director Manuel Teixeira Rodrigues Fontes said the deal was made shortly before the club’s previous administration left office last month while new president Roberto Dinamite warned players’ agents of a new approach from now on.

“As soon as we took over, we became aware of the sale of Philippe Coutinho,” Fontes said on the club’s Web site (

“He had already been sold by the previous directors to Inter Milan.”

Fontes, who said the deal was worth 3.8 million euros, said Coutinho would stay with Vasco for another two years as FIFA rules prohibit the international transfer of players under 16.

Former Brazil striker Roberto, who replaced Eurico Miranda as president following an 18-month legal battle, announced a change in policy under his leadership.

“Any player from the youth divisions is important to the club,” he said. “Now, we’re starting a new phase at Vasco.

“We want to build a strong team... The partnership between agents and the club should be good for both sides. The player needs to stay for as long as possible at the club.”

Earlier this year, Miranda, president at the time, accused Real Madrid of making an offer to Coutinho behind Vasco’s back.

He said he had reported Real to FIFA, alleging they had tried to get around the rules by offering a job to Coutinho’s father and a chance for his family to live in Spain.

Writing by Brian Homewood in Buenos Aires; Editing by Justin Palmer