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Aston Villa could ditch Coutinho by signing Joao Felix

Aston Villa playmaker Philippe Coutinho could be facing an uncertain future at the club following Unai Emery’s appointment as manager, with reports from Brazil linking the 30-year-old with a return to his homeland…

What’s the word?

Brazilian outlet Globo Esporte state that the prospect of Coutinho returning to Brazil is an ever-increasing possibility, with the likes of Corinthians showing heavy interest over the past few weeks.

The 30-year-old’s agent Kia Joorabchian stated that he will ‘do his best’ to strike an agreement which stretches across oceans and continents, and having forged similar deals for the likes of Willian and Vitor Pereira in the past, this one might just materialise. 

Transfer specialist Dean Jones believes that, in light of the rumours over the Brazilian’s future, another well-known agent in Jorge Mendes may be pushing his client Joao Felix towards a move to Villa (as per The Athletic), citing Coutinho as an example of the club’s pull.

Jones told GIVEMESPORT: “It’d be a massive coup to get someone like Joao Felix to make the move to Villa Park right now. Obviously, you’ve got Unai Emery there who will know all about Felix from his time in Spain as well.

“But Villa have shown in the past that they can attract players, they signed Philippe Coutinho last January from Barcelona, so they do have the finances and the lure to sign these top players. So, it just shows the ambition that Villa’s owners have got that they’re actually in the mix for Felix.”

Enter Felix

Lured to Villa Park by previous manager Steven Gerrard on an initial loan deal in January before joining permanently a few months later, Coutinho has been underwhelming during his time in the Midlands, showing glimpses of flair but failing to maintain consistency.

This season, he has failed to register a goal or an assist across 13 appearances in all competitions, recording a lowly rating of 6.37 in the Premier League, as per Whoscored.

A move away might benefit all parties concerned, with Felix on NSWE’s radar having fallen out of favour at Atletico since his £113m move from Benfica in 2019 and reportedly open to departing Madrid.

If Emery manages to secure the “magic” 23-year-old, as hailed by former Benfica coach Renato Paiva, it would represent a major statement of intent.

While the Portuguese ace occupies a role of a more direct forward nature, his presence in the Villa team could lift them towards talk of European endeavours once again. Quite simply, he could be the catalyst for change. 

Having won two of their three matches since Emery began his reign as manager, Villa are already offering signs that more fruitful times lay ahead, but a signing of Felix’s magnitude – considering the reported interest of Manchester United, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain – would be seismic.

In the €100m-priced (£87m) Felix, Villa would receive a forward with trickery and elegance in abundance, with FBref ranking him within the top 11% for progressive passes and 13% for dribbles completed among forwards across Europe’s top five leagues in 2022.

The “starlet” – as dubbed by Semra Hunter – would enhance Villa’s line-up and surely play a pivotal role in any ascent up the Premier League table, something that the £125k-per-week Coutinho, for all his previous exploits at a high level, has failed to inspire in his time at the club.

If signing Felix would require Emery and Villa to jettison the Brazilian, so be it.