What Aston Villa must learn from Philippe Coutinho nightmare

Aston Villa will be looking to offload Brazilian international Phillipe Coutinho this summer following a disastrously expensive transfer to the club two years ago.
Aston Villa v Everton FC - Premier League
Aston Villa v Everton FC - Premier League / Michael Regan/GettyImages

Philippe Coutinho was signed permanently for Villa by Steven Gerrard in May 2022, following a loan spell at the club, for a fee in the region of £17 million. The loan spell was made permanent as a result of some promising signs during his first few appearances and hence why that short-term deal was made longer.

However, his performances soon dipped and injuries meant he was unable to play regularly. When Gerrard saw the exit door and Unai Emery arrived, Coutinho quickly fell out of favour completely and found himself not playing but still earning huge wages. Coutinho had signed a four-year contract with a salary of £125,000 a week making him one of the highest earners at the football club.

As a result of the lack of playing time and ongoing injury issues, Coutinho was sent out on a season-long loan to Qatar to play for Al-Duhail. Fortunately for Villa, the Qatari club has paid the vast majority of his wages during that time but the deal over the last two years has cost Villa a lot of money for very little return. Now that the loan deal in Qatar has concluded Villa will be trying desperately to get Coutinho off their books permanently.

Al Duhail v Al-Nassr - AFC Champions League
Al Duhail v Al-Nassr - AFC Champions League / Mohamed Farag/GettyImages

However, after just 6 goals in 21 appearances in the Middle East he had hardly set the league alight. Therefore, Villa may well find it difficult to secure a deal for the 31-year-old that is going to benefit the club in the financial sense.

Reports are suggesting that Villa are discussing the possibility of terminating Coutinho's contract at Villa Park with the player hoping to return to his homeland as quickly as possible. Unai Emery has informed the Brazilian that he is not part of the plans at Aston Villa and therefore the cancelling of his contract, which could be a difficult situation to finalise, is the best option for all parties.

As reported by Danny Rust (GiveMeSport) 'Coutinho is aiming to join Vasco De Gama should he reach a mutual agreement to terminate his Villa contract'. This would be a return to the side, based in Rio De Janeiro, that Coutinho came through the ranks of before his stellar career at the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munch, Inter Milan and Liverpool kicked off.

If this does prove to be true, and the contract is terminated, it would see Villa make a significant loss as there would be no transfer fee and therefore no return on the original transfer fee of £17 million that Villa paid in 2022. The key for Villa going forward though is to get the player's very high wages off the books and move on from what was a terrible deal in a disastrous managerial experiment in Steven Gerrard. Villa fans will not be thanking former CEO Christian Purslow for that.

Aston Villa, Philippe Coutinho
Aston Villa v Southampton - Premier League / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

Thankfully for Villa, decisions since the era of Gerrard and Coutinho are showing significant improvement and fans will be confident that a scenario like this won't be a frequent one. The hiring of Steven Gerrard was a huge gamble due to the lack of experience at the top level in management. Immediately it became clear that Gerrard was tactically inept and the team's performances and results fell off a cliff, leaving Villa fighting relegation by the time he was sacked in October 2022. His decision to sign Coutinho was also just as big a gamble. To spend so much money on a formerly 'World Class' player that had been struggling with injuries for a sustained period of time was a risk that certainly didn't pay off.

Unai Emery
Aston Villa v Liverpool FC - Premier League / James Baylis - AMA/GettyImages

Thankfully, owners Sawiris and Edens have shown with their hiring of Unai Emery and their continued commitment to improving the structure of the club, that this situation is unlikely to happen again. Villa have shown they now know how to act smartly in the transfer window, evidenced by the deal about to be confirmed for Ross Barkley. Rather than paying over the odds for someone like Coutinho, Villa are buying a player who has completed a brilliant season in the Premier League for a very small fee and on wages a third of those of Coutinho.

With FFP and PSR continuing to put huge pressure on clubs with regards to their spending in the transfer market, Villa will need to continue to be smart if they are to ensure they don't breach any of the rules in place and follow the likes of Everton and Nottingham Forest.