Aston Villa signs Philippe Coutinho on loan from Barcelona until the end of the season

Coutinho will be reunited with Aston Villa head coach Steven Gerrard, who was the Brazilian playmaker’s teammate for two seasons at Liverpool.

“I don’t think you get a nickname of ‘The Magician’ if you’re not a special footballer,” Gerrard told reporters at a press conference on Thursday.

“I’ve got nothing but positive 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.”

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Coutinho has struggled since being sold by Liverpool to Barça in 2018 for a reported fee of £145 million ($196.5M) and spent a year out on loan to Bayern Munich, where he similarly enjoyed limited success.

The 29-year-old has shown flashes of the brilliance that convinced the Spanish giant to make him its club-record signing, but Coutinho’s departure will be a welcome one as the club looks to free up its bloated wage bill to register new players.

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“The agreement, which is subject to the player completing a medical and receiving a work permit, also includes an option to buy and Philippe will travel to Birmingham in the next 48 hours,” Villa said in a statement on Friday.

A number of Premier League clubs and leading clubs across Europe had been keen to sign Coutinho, but it has been reported that his relationship with Gerrard gave Villa the edge over its transfer rivals.