Aston Villa receive boost in hopes of signing ex-Liverpool ace for bargain fee this summer

Aston Villa pulled off one of their finest transfer coups in the January window, bringing in Philippe Coutinho on loan.

The Barcelona outcast made a dazzling debut for Villa last month, scoring the equalising goal in a dramatic 2-2 draw with Manchester United at Villa Park.

Villa fans will be eager to see the club take up their option to sign the ex-Liverpool sensation outright the summer for £33m, and encouraging reports from transfer guru Fabrizio Romano suggest the Brazil international could well opt to relocate to the West Midlands on a permanent basis.

Romano told Italian outlet Gazzetta Dello Five, via Team Talk: “He’s started very well. I’m told also from some people into the club that in training, he seems really happy, super happy with Steven Gerrard, super happy with the atmosphere.“

“Who’s close to Coutinho? Agents. They say they never saw Philippe happy and ready to fight as they see him right now.“

“So, a few weeks ago, he was suffering at Barcelona because he was not even considered as a key player. Now he’s back as a star, he was needing some fresh air, he was needing maybe Premier League football.”

Evidently, the change of scene is doing the 29-year-old the world of good, and he could well opt to end his spell at the Camp Nou in favour of a permanent return to Premier League football.

Much like his Barca teammate Ousmane Dembele, Coutinho’s mega-money switch to Catalan giants never quite worked out, and his determination to reignite his career with Villa has been clear to see in his first two matches for Gerrard’s side.

The skilful midfielder is currently on international duty with Brazil, and scored a stunning goal from outside the area in his side’s 4-0 World Cup qualification win over Paraguay earlier in the week.

Still seems surreal that he wears claret & blue now

Speaking after the game, via Globo Esporte, Coutinho reflected on being recalled to the squad for the first time in a year back in October, and said: “I have been getting a lot of beating, and that doesn’t change my essence. Nor does the praise. I know who I am, where I can get to, and today I leave here very happy.”

“(I had) a long time off - I had a difficult, complicated injury. I was called up again, I came back again now, I played, I left at the beginning in the last game. The manager gave me another chance today, we won the game and I’m happy to score in this stadium and with all the Brazilian fans present.

“I had a very difficult time, I was away from the pitch for nine months, I underwent three surgeries. There are times when you see the difficulty passing, but I had all the support of my family at all times.

“The CBF and all the staff, Dr Rodrigo and Fábio also provided all the help for my recovery. Today’s game doesn’t change anything, just like before, it doesn’t either. I want to keep working to evolve. This is a daily dispute. At clubs we have to do our best to be able to come back.”

Coutinho and Villa are back in action next Wednesday, when they host Leeds United in an eagerly anticipated clash at Villa Park.

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