DONE DEAL: Aston Villa sign Philippe Coutinho on loan from Barcelona
PA - Mike Egerton
Aston Villa have completed the loan signing of Philippe Coutinho from Barcelona after the Brazilian successfully obtained a work permit.
The Premier League club announced on Tuesday evening that the formalities of the transfer, which includes an option to buy, had now been processed.
“Philippe Coutinho arrived at Bodymoor Heath on Tuesday afternoon to complete his move to Aston Villa,” a club statement read.
“The Brazil international, 29, travelled straight to the club’s training complex having landed in Birmingham, coming after he successfully completed his medical and obtained a work permit.
“Coutinho will spend the rest of this season on loan at Villa Park from FC Barcelona, with the agreement including an option to buy.”
Barcelona confirmed Villa will pay part of Coutinho’s wages as he returns to the Premier League after four years and teams back up with former Liverpool team-mate Steven Gerrard.
Coutinho joined Barcelona from Liverpool in 2018 in a deal worth £146million, but has struggled at the Nou Camp and spent the 2019-20 season on loan at Bayern Munich.
Despite helping Barca win LaLiga in 2018 and 2019, he never found the form he displayed in the Premier League.
Coutinho, who spent time in France while waiting for the work permit to be processed, becomes Gerrard’s first signing at Villa since he joined from Rangers in November to replace Dean Smith.
“It’s a pleasure to be here; it’s a great club,” Coutinho said on www.avfc.co.uk.
“I spoke a lot with the manager, with Stevie, and he told me about the club and his ambitions. I’m very happy to be here and I’m looking to enjoy my football.
“I’ve known Stevie for a long time. I played with him and I learned a lot from him.
“He’s someone who I have big admiration for. I hope to do my best here. For sure, I will work hard, and I hope together we can do good work.”
Coutinho could be handed his Villa debut against Manchester United on Saturday and is confident he can again make a big impression on the Premier League.
“I’m looking forward to meeting the fans, to being on the pitch. I know and I feel that they’re happy that I’m here,” he said.
“I want to repay that on the pitch and enjoy my football. I’m looking forward to being on the pitch.
“I always want to be at my best, doing my work. That’s what I work hard for every day. I hope it will be a great rest of the season here.”
Meanwhile, reports suggest Everton are interested in a move for Villa midfielder Anwar El Ghazi, who came off the bench for the closing stages of the FA Cup third-round defeat at Old Trafford on Monday night.
Villa are also reported to be tracking Everton defender Lucas Digne, who has fallen out of favour with Toffees’ boss Rafael Benitez.
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