Aston Villa have an option to buy Philippe Coutinho at the end of the season; Coutinho was keen to leave Barcelona and return to the Premier League in search of regular football; the Brazilian played with current Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard at Liverpool
Saturday 8 January 2022 07:18, UK
Philippe Coutinho has joined Aston Villa on loan from Barcelona until the end of the season.
The agreement, which is subject to the player completing a medical and receiving a work permit, also includes an option to buy and Coutinho will travel to Birmingham in the next 48 hours.
Villa are paying less than 50 per cent of Coutinho's weekly wage, plus bonuses, Sky Sports News has been told, and he even agreed to a pay cut, with 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.
Villa have an option to buy Coutinho for £33m in the summer.
One source told Sky Sports News there was also a chance Coutinho could have returned to Liverpool this month and that he would have been open to the move.
However, it is understood Liverpool were not pursuing a move for the 29-year-old during the January transfer window.
Coutinho was signed by Barcelona from Liverpool for a club-record £146m in January 2018, but he has struggled to hold down a first-team place at the Nou Camp and spent the 2019/20 season on loan at Bayern Munich.
In terms of outgoings, Villa striker Wesley has joined Brazilian side Internacional on loan for the rest of the season.
Speaking on Thursday ahead of signing Coutinho, manager Steven Gerrard said:
"Sixty-three caps for Brazil, a serial winner, was incredible at Liverpool, so I can understand why he's linked to a lot of football clubs," said Gerrard.
"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 as a magician if you're not a special footballer, so he's someone I have an incredible amount of respect for.
"But I don't want to add to any speculation, because he belongs to Barcelona."
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.
Who will be on the move in January?
The January transfer window opens on Saturday January 1, 2022 and closes at 11pm on Monday January 31.
Keep up-to-date with all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports' digital platforms. You can also catch up with the ins, outs and analysis on Sky Sports News.