Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho officially joins Aston Villa on initial six-month loan with option to buy for £33m; Brazil international says "it was clear that I wanted to be here" after speaking to Steven Gerrard about his and the club's ambitions
Wednesday 12 January 2022 12:59, UK
Philippe Coutinho says Steven Gerrard convinced him to choose Aston Villa amid interest from elsewhere, as he aims to get back to his best in England.
Barcelona midfielder Coutinho completed a loan move to Villa until the end of the season on Tuesday.
The deal to bring him to Villa Park also includes an option to make the deal permanent for £33m in the summer.
Explaining his decision to join Villa to the club's media, Coutinho said: "[Steven Gerrard] told me about the club, the ambitions of the club and his plans also.
"When I spoke to him after the meeting it was clear that I wanted to be here. I think it [happened] quickly and I am very happy to be here."
Asked if he can get back to his best at Villa, Coutinho added: "Of course, I always want to be at my best. That's why I work hard every day. I hope it will be a great rest of the season here now."
Sky Sports News has been told Villa are paying less than 50 per cent of Coutinho's weekly wage plus bonuses.
The 29-year-old 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.
Villa are also interested in Brighton midfielder Yves Bissouma as he enters the final 18 months of his contract but Seagulls boss Graham Potter revealed there has been no contact from other clubs for the Mali midfielder.
Meanwhile, Villa striker Wesley has joined Brazilian side Internacional on loan for the rest of the season.
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?
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