Aston Villa could well be nearing a permanent deal for on-loan star Philippe Coutinho, according to respected journalist Ashley Preece…
In response to fan questions during a Q&A on BirminghamMail, Villa correspondent Preece hinted that a deal to keep the Brazilian at the club beyond the end of the season is in the works.
Having been asked how likely a deal for the 29-year-old is, the journalist responded by saying that: “Coutinho deal is, I’m told, likely to go through. Just a case of dotting Is and crossing Ts.”
The Midlands side reportedly included a £33.4m option to buy in the deal that took the 68-cap international from parent club Barcelona on a six-month loan deal back in January, although recent reports have suggested that the Villa Park outfit are keen to secure a reduced price this summer.
While no one will be counting their chickens just yet until the former Liverpool man has actually signed on the dotted line, the news that the deal is close will come as a huge boost to all concerned, particularly for Villa boss, Steven Gerrard.
The 41-year-old – who replaced Dean Smith at the helm back in November – was seemingly instrumental in helping to tempt his former Anfield teammate into making a return to the Premier League, with the player having been in desperate need of a fresh start following a dismal stint at the Nou Camp.
The one-time Inter Milan man had been plucked from Merseyside on a mammoth £142m deal back in January 2018 by the Catalan giants, although has since failed to justify that colossal price tag, with that move having been viewed by pundit Ian Wright as “easily” one of the worst transfers of all time.
Since his return to English football, however, the playmaker has looked like a man reborn, having already chipped in with four goals and three assists in just 13 top-flight outings so far this term, with his ex-colleague-turned manager, Gerrard, having dubbed him a “quality footballer” as a result.
The £18m-rated ace has seemingly settled in nicely to his new surroundings and is currently the second highest-ranked player among the Villa squad with a 7.15 average match rating, with the hope now that he can continue to replicate that form beyond this season, should he commit himself for the long-haul.
For a player who was previously labelled the “best in the league” by Micah Richards prior to his departure from Liverpool, it has certainly been a rocky last few seasons, although staying where he is beyond the summer could well offer the chance at redemption.
As for Villa, their current standings in the top-flight table suggest it will take more than just the talents of the ‘magician’ to turn them into European contenders next season, although having him in tow will certainly make their lofty ambitions far easier to realise.