Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho officially joins Aston Villa on initial six-month loan with option to buy for £33m; Brazilian was keen on Premier League return in search of regular football and reunites with former Liverpool team-mate and Villa boss Steven Gerrard.
Aston Villa have confirmed the signing of Philippe Coutinho on loan from Barcelona until the end of the season.
Coutinho completed a medical at Villa’s Bodymoor Heath training ground on Tuesday and received a work permit. The deal to bring him to Villa Park also includes an option to make the deal permanent for £33m in the summer.
Sky Sports News has been told Villa are paying less than 50 per cent of Coutinho’s weekly wage plus bonuses.
The Brazilian agreed to take a pay cut to join Villa despite other clubs offering deals that would have seen him earn 100 per cent of his Barca wage.
Coutinho wanted to return to England and play regular football and sees Villa as an ambitious club that are building something special for the future.
The Brazil midfielder knows manager Steven Gerrard well having spent two-and-a-half years with him at Liverpool, and is said to already know a lot about Villa and their squad.
One source told Sky Sports News Coutinho would have been open to return to Liverpool this month but the Merseyside club were not pursuing a move for him in January.
Coutinho was signed by Barcelona from Liverpool for a club-record £146m in January 2018, but he struggled to hold down a first-team place at the Nou Camp and spent the 2019/20 season on loan at Bayern Munich.
Analysis: Coutinho could fill Grealish void
The way I love coutinho 😂 that guy
— Jack Grealish (@JackGrealish) February 4, 2015
Jack Grealish once commented Philippe Coutinho was one of his favourite players to watch on YouTube. “He always has that one, you know, where he goes left and drops like a little shimmy, which is what I like doing myself.” Now the journey has come full circle.
While Grealish perfected his art enough to earn a £100m move to Manchester City, Coutinho returns to the Premier League to replace him at Aston Villa. If the Brazilian can repeat the form that took him from Liverpool to Barcelona it will be an ideal signing.
There are similarities between the two players. Grealish praised Coutinho’s ability to “go past players like they aren’t there” and that is what Villa so loved about their former captain. They have missed having that player who can make things happen this season.
Is the Coutinho idolised by Grealish still there? At 29, there is time to recapture his best form under old team-mate Steven Gerrard, but his career has drifted at Barcelona. If, like Grealish, Coutinho is inspired by being the main man at Villa Park, there is fun to be had.