Philippe Coutinho is returning to the Premier League, the Brazil international agreeing to a loan move to Aston Villa, who have the option to purchase the Barcelona playmaker.
The 29 year old is due in Birmingham in the coming hours to finalize the deal and complete his medical, subject to the securing of a work permit that ought to be no problem for a player with 63 caps for Brazil. Coutinho has endured a disastrous decline in form since departing England for the Camp Nou nearly four years ago and convincing a club to take on part of his wages will be welcome news for Barcelona, where he has struggled for game time under Xavi.
Villa will pick up a portion of Coutinho’s wages with Barcelona having long struggled to convince any suitors to match the $200,000-a-week salary he receives from them. Freeing up at least some of that money will help in their attempts to register Ferran Torres, the $74 million signing they are unable to add to their squad yet due to La Liga’s financial regulations.
Though Coutinho’s form has fallen off a cliff since leaving Liverpool in January 2018, for Villa he represents something of a gamble worth taking. For all his struggles at Barcelona he still provided 25 goals and 14 assists in 106 games and had a regular hand in goals during the 2019-20 season, which he spent on loan at Bayern Munich. Villa boss Steven Gerrard was at the heart of the Liverpool side in which Coutinho enjoyed his career best form.
On Thursday, Gerrard said of him: “He’s won two league titles at Barcelona, two Copa del Reys. If you go and have a look at his Wiki page you’ll see a serial winner wherever he goes. He’s won 63 caps for Brazil, played for Barcelona and was incredible at Liverpool.
“So I can understand why he’s linked to a lot of football clubs. I can understand why a lot of supporters up and down the country are speaking about him. I don’t think you get a nickname of ‘The Magician’ if you’re not a special footballer.”