Aston Villa have sealed a deal to sign Philippe Coutinho on loan from Barcelona for the rest of the season with an option to buy. The Brazilian is due in Birmingham for a medical to complete a transfer under which Villa will pay about 65% of his salary.
The move reunites Coutinho with Steven Gerrard, a former Liverpool teammate who is Villa’s head coach. The pair played together from 2013-15 and Gerrard’s presence at Villa has been key to the move. Gerrard had contact with Coutinho more than three times in the 48 hours leading up to the deal being agreed and on Thursday publicly described the 29-year-old as a “special footballer”.
Villa’s option to purchase Coutinho will be valid until June and is understood to set the price at €40m (£33.4m). Gerrard, speaking on Thursday, said: “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.”
Coutinho’s time at Barcelona since a move from Liverpool for an initial £106m has in fact not been a success and he spent the 2019-20 season on loan at Bayern Munich. Barcelona have made attempts to sell him since summer 2019 without finding a buyer.
Villa said in a statement: “Aston Villa and FC Barcelona have agreed terms for Philippe Coutinho to spend the rest of this season on loan at Villa Park.
“The agreement, which is subject to the player completing a medical and receiving a work permit, also includes an option to buy and Philippe will travel to Birmingham in the next 48 hours.”