Newcastle have entered the race to sign Barcelona outcast Philippe Coutinho, GOAL can confirm.
Coutinho has been on Barca’s books for four years, having initially completed a big-money move to Camp Nou from Liverpool in January 2018.
However, the Brazilian failed to live up to his €166m (£142m/$175m) price tag and now finds himself back in the Premier League on loan at Aston Villa.
Newcastle join race for Coutinho
Coutinho has one year left on his contract at Barca but he has already accepted he has no future at the club and wants to secure a permanent return to the Premier League.
Villa have the option of buying him outright for €40m (£34m/$42m) this summer, but have yet to confirm whether they will trigger that clause in their loan deal. , and Newcastle are now waiting in the wings to pounce.
GOAL learned that the Magpies are ready to pay the same fee for Coutinho and have already contacted Barca directly over a potential transfer ahead of the summer transfer window.
The 29-year-old is keen to stay in England to boost his chances of making Brazil’s 2022 World Cup squad, but Newcastle are aware Villa still have first refusal on the player at the moment.
What did Gerrard say about Coutinho?
Villa boss Gerrard, who played alongside Coutinho at Liverpool between 2013 and 2015, has confirmed he wants the midfielder to stay in the West Midlands in March.
“I think you all know what my decision would be,” he said. “There is obviously an option in place, Barcelona still own the player. Phil must obviously want to be here in terms of the bigger picture, but he is enjoying his football and looks happy and settled.
“I know the owners are very ambitious so we’ll just analyze that as we go. But if it was totally on me and it was my money, you know what I would do.”
Coutinho was left out of Gerrard’s starting XI for Villa’s 3-1 win over Burnley last time out, having failed to register a single goal in his previous seven appearances, with Emiliano Buendia taking his place.
The head coach insists a man who has a total of four goals and three assists to his name since joining Villa in January is still in his long-term plans, however, as he l told reporters after the game: “We want Philippe Coutinho here. We have five games in 15 days so Phil and Emi [Buendia] both will have enough playing time to stay satisfied.
“As a club we want to be in a place where games come in quick succession. Phil understood the decision, he played a lot. There’s no ego here.”