Aston Villa could sign Philippe Coutinho permanently this summer from Barcelona for a cheaper fee by paying a large portion of his salary in an initial loan deal, a report has claimed.
The 29-year-old midfielder is reportedly closing in on a move back to the Premier League. He outlined his dream to play for Barca following his mega-money move from Liverpool in January 2018.
However, four years later, Coutinho has struggled to advance his career as he would have hoped.
As such, a move back to the English top flight is on the horizon. He contributed directly to 78 goals in 152 Premier League appearances for Liverpool and is now looking for more.
Initially, six Premier League clubs were reportedly in the race to sign Coutinho.
More recently, Sky Sports News reported that only two sides – Aston Villa and Liverpool – remain in the hunt. But the source added that the Liverpool link looks unlikely because the Reds will not pursue a move for him.
As a result, the links with Villa have grown stronger. Another report outlined, though, how doubt has emerged over a potential obligation to buy Coutinho in a loan deal with Villa.
According to the latest from Spanish journalist Gerard Moreno, Villa could have found a breakthrough over the transfer.
Steven Gerrard’s side could sign Coutinho permanently in the summer for a cheaper fee if they agree to pay a sizeable chunk of his salary until the end of the season.
Indeed, Barcelona want Villa to pay between 50 and 70 per cent of his wages in the initial loan deal.
Barcelona want to sort the deal out quickly as they look to shift Coutinho’s salary off their wage bill.
Sky Sports News adds in a further update that the player would welcome signing for Villa.
Coutinho could seek Aston Villa
Reporter Kaveh Solhekol said: “Speaking to people on the player’s side of the deal, my feeling about this is that Philippe Coutinho would be interested in joining Aston Villa.
“He knows people at Aston Villa. He knows Steven Gerrard and [chief executive] Christian Purslow from his time at Liverpool, he feels Villa are an up-and-coming club. Gerrard, Purslow and the owners have big plans for the club.
“He also knows the king of quality in the Villa squad, players like Ollie Watkins, Emi Buendia and Emi Martinez, and he feels if he was playing at Villa regularly, he could help them get up the table and into Europe.
“So, I think that is definitely on the cards and as far as Aston Villa are concerned, of course, they are not giving anything away.
“They are not commenting at all because as far as they are concerned, he’s a Barcelona player.”
Indeed, Gerrard shut down any talk of Coutinho in his latest press conference, other than to talk glowingly of a player he worked with at Liverpool.