REVEALED: Aston Villa are paying £125,000 per week as a cut of Philippe Coutinho’s Barcelona wages after signing Brazilian on loan until the end of the season – and will have to pay £33m to buy him in the summer
- Aston Villa are paying close to £125,000 a week for Philippe Coutinho’s wages
- Villa will have to pay around £33million if they are to sign Coutinho permanently
- The Brazilian has joined Villa on loan from Barcelona until the end of the season
Aston Villa will have to pay about £33million to sign Philippe Coutinho permanently from Barcelona after securing a loan deal for the Brazilian star until the end of the season.
Steven Gerrard has made a clear statement of intent less than two months into his Villa Park reign by pushing for the signing of his former Liverpool team-mate, whose salary will be shared by the two clubs, with Villa thought to be paying close to £125,000 a week. Senior members of Gerrard’s squad are thought to be hugely excited about working with the 29-year-old.
Coutinho is desperate to help Brazil to their sixth World Cup this winter and that, along with the presence of Gerrard and the promise of regular football, helped Villa seal the agreement.
Aston Villa will have to pay £33million if they are to sign Philippe Coutinho permanently
Gerrard’s preferred system is a 4-3-3 similar to the one used by Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, and he believes Coutinho can operate either as an attacking No8 or as one of the wide forwards. The latter role appears likelier, certainly at first, with John McGinn, Douglas Luiz and Jacob Ramsey currently forming an effective midfield trio.
Villa announced Coutinho’s signing on Friday and confirmed the playmaker, who turns 30 in June, was expected in Birmingham over the weekend. Subject to passing a medical and receiving a work permit, he could make his home debut against Manchester United next Saturday.
Gerrard and Coutinho played together at Anfield from 2013-15, and nearly helped Liverpool to the league title under Brendan Rodgers in 2014, and Gerrard made clear his admiration for his first Villa signing in the hours before the deal was done.
‘He’s a wonderful footballer,’ said Gerrard. ‘To share a dressing room and a pitch with Coutinho was an absolute pleasure because he is on a level that very few footballers are on.
Steven Gerrard’s Villa are paying close to £125,000 a week for Coutinho’s wages during the loan
‘His imagination, his creativity, some of the highlight reels are incredible and there for all to see. I think the name speaks for itself. He is a serial winner wherever he goes.
He’s won 63 caps for Brazil, played for Barcelona and was incredible at Liverpool. I don’t think you get a nickname of ‘The Magician’ if you’re not a special footballer.’
Coutinho’s performances in that period at Liverpool, and some of his displays for Brazil at the 2018 World Cup, were of the highest class. Gerrard is taking a gamble that he can coax them from him once again.
Because apart from his early weeks at Barcelona, who he joined for £145million four years ago on Friday, Coutinho’s time at the Nou Camp has been a huge disappointment.
Barcelona won the domestic double in his first season and added another league title in 2019 and Copa del Rey last year. Yet ever since Coutinho was allowed to join Bayern Munich on loan for the 2019-20 season, he has been surplus to requirements with Barca.
Coutinho struggled at Barcelona but impressed his team-mates by remaining professional
Not all the blame can be laid at Coutinho’s door, however. If a club are prepared to pay nearly £150m for a player, you assume they have a clear plan for him. Barcelona did not, meaning Coutinho struggled to adapt both as a midfielder and an attacker.
Barcelona have slumped during the Brazilian’s four years on their books and – perhaps unfairly – he has been targeted by supporters who view him as a symbol of their club’s decline. On the pitch, Coutinho’s confidence has waned and there has been little of the magic that made him so exciting at Liverpool.
Throughout his difficulties, though, Coutinho has impressed team-mates by remaining professional, and there is little chance of him slacking off under Gerrard, given the pair’s mutual respect.
It is striking to see, however, that two of the finest midfielders of their generation have such differing views. With his club under huge financial pressure, Barcelona coach Xavi deemed Coutinho expendable. Gerrard believes he can transform Villa. It will be fascinating to see who has made the right call.
With his club under huge financial pressure, B Xavi deemed Coutinho expendable