Aston Villa are closing in on a permanent deal for loanee Philippe Coutinho following talks with Barcelona, 90min can confirm.
As revealed by 90min in March, Villa have reopened lines of communication with Barça despite already have an option to sign the Brazilian attacking midfielder for £33m in the summer.
Coutinho arrived in January on a six-month loan and has shown flashes of the brilliant form that Premier League viewers became familiar with during his time at Liverpool, although Villa themselves have struggled recently.
90min understands Villa head coach Steven Gerrard will have the full backing of the club’s owners this summer as he seeks to conduct major surgery on an underperforming squad, and he wants Coutinho’s signature to be the first step of that process.
A host of rival clubs including Arsenal, West Ham and Newcastle have also enquired about Coutinho and his situation, but it is believed that he would prefer to remain at Villa Park under the tutelage of his former teammate Gerrard.
Gerrard has made it clear, both privately and publicly, that he wants Coutinho to stay on more than one occasion.
Speaking after Tuesday night’s defeat to their mutual former club, Gerrard said: “I can repeat I’m extremely keen to keep Coutinho here permanently, we’re trying and we’re aligned.”
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Villa had the option to sign the Brazil international permanently at the end of the season for £33m, but they began talks to renegotiate terms back in March once they had been convinced to bring the 29-year-old in full-time.
Coutinho has 12 months left on his £300,000-per-week contract at Camp Nou, so Barcelona are willing to cut their losses on a player who has flattered to deceive in Catalonia and thrash out a deal.
90min understands Barça are ready to accept a fee of less than £20m in order to shift Coutinho, and that will mean his full wages are removed from their books. The player is set to accept a lower salary in order to seal a long-term deal at Villa Park.