Thursday January 6, 2022 20:15 GMT
Barcelona striker Philippe Coutinho is targeted by two Premier League clubs, and a decision is expected to be made on Friday afternoon.
Coutinho, who was signed by Barcelona from Liverpool for a club record of Â£ 146million in January 2018, wants to return to the Premier League and sign for an ambitious club where he can play regularly.
There were as many as six English clubs in the race to sign Coutinho earlier this week, but now there are only two serious contenders vying for the Brazil international.
Aston Villa were among those taking an interest in the midfielder after making an investigative attempt at Barcelona, ââwith manager Steven Gerrard – a former Coutinho teammate at Liverpool – a big admirer.
Gerrard declined to be drawn to speculation at a press conference on Thursday, but praised Coutinho, whom he still considers a friend.
“Sixty-three caps for Brazil, a series winner, was incredible at Liverpool so I can understand why he is linked with so many football clubs,” Gerrard said, ahead of the FA Cup third round match on Monday. at Manchester United.
“I can understand why a lot of fans across the country are talking about him. I don’t think you get a magician nickname if you’re not a special footballer so he’s someone I respect. amazing for.
“But I don’t want to add to any speculation, because he belongs to Barcelona.”
“Coutinho a series winner wherever he is”
Coutinho, who has scored 28 goals in 105 games for Barca, has struggled since making his dream move to Catalonia but still managed to win four major trophies as a full player.
Despite widespread belief Coutinho has underperformed since arriving in Spain, Gerrard has defended his former teammate’s record at Camp Nou and believes he still has a lot to offer.
“He won two league titles and two Copa del Rey with Barcelona,” Gerrard added.
âI think if you go take a look at his Wikipedia page, I think you’ll see a serial winner wherever he is.
“I only have good things to say about the player, he’s a friend of mine, so if I’m asked the questions I can speak for as long as you want.”
Coutinho also spent the 2019/20 campaign on loan at Bayern Munich and won the Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup under Hansi Flick.
“Coutinho would be more than happy to play for Aston Villa”
Sky Sports News‘s Kaveh Solhekol:
âSpeaking to people on the player’s side, my feeling on this is that Philippe Coutinho would be interested in joining Aston Villa.
“He knows people at Aston Villa. He has known Steven Gerrard and Christian Purslow from his time in Liverpool. He thinks Villa is a growing club. Gerrard, Purslow and the owners have big plans for the club.
âHe also knows the king of quality in the Villa squad, players like Ollie Watkins, Emi Buendia and Emi Martinez, and he thinks that if he played regularly at Villa he could help them get on the table and to enter Europe.
âSo I think it’s definitely on the cards and as far as Aston Villa is concerned of course they don’t give anything. They don’t comment at all because as far as they are concerned he’s a Barcelona player.
“From a player’s perspective, I understand Coutinho would be more than happy to play for Aston Villa and Steven Gerrard.”
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