Aston Villa announced the signing of Barcelona’s Philippe Coutinho on loan until the end of the season on Friday morning.
After two full days of speculation, the clubs agreed to a deal that includes a £33 million option to buy in June. Until then, Villa will pay cut-rate wages for the Brazilian, with reports suggesting the Spanish side plan to cover half of the player’s salary.
The deal materialized quickly and took social media by storm on Thursday. Villa manager Steven Gerrard reportedly played a major role in luring his former Liverpool teammate to Birmingham.
Coutinho scored 41 times in 152 league matches for Liverpool between 2013 and 2018 before joining Barcelona. In Spain, Coutinho featured only 76 times and spent the entirety of the 2019-20 season on loan at Bayern Munich where he tallied eight goals.
Though initially a loan deal, Coutinho’s arrival at Villa is a big deal for a team that played in the second division of English football just three years ago.
His £105 million transfer from Liverpool to Barcelona in 2018 is the third-highest fee in the history of the sport, and less than four years later, the attacker will don the claret and blue.
Gerrard is tasked with getting the best out of Coutinho after subpar spells in Spain. The Brazilian has plenty to give at just 29 years of age and could thrive as an attacking midfielder in Gerrard’s 4-3-2-1 system.
If it doesn’t work out, no harm is done. Coutinho goes back to Spain in June, and Villa consider new options. But on paper, a reunion with Gerrard and the prospect of linking up with fellow South Americans Douglas Luiz and Emi Buendia in the Villa midfield is a mouth-watering prospect.
Drink it up, Villa supporters. Today is a day for celebration and optimism. The Gerrard Effect is in full force in the West Midlands.