BARCELONA – Barcelona and Aston Villa agreed this Friday to transfer Philippe Coutinho to the English club for the remainder of this season, with the English club reserving a non-mandatory purchase option that, for now, will substantially lighten the salary mass of the Barça squad and will close one of the most urgent cases for the Catalan club.
Aston Villa, as Barça announced in its statement, will take over “a part of the player’s file” that it did not specify, although a source familiar with the operation explained to ESPN that it will be close to two-thirds of the remainder to pay for this course and that would exceed 7 million euros.
With this transfer, Barça manages to extend its salary limit, although it still needs to generate more space to register Ferran Torres, who was presented at the Camp Nou on January 3 but has not yet been discharged by the Barça club.
Coutinho will travel immediately to Birmingham, where he will sign his contract once he has passed the medical examination, and will place himself under the orders of Steven Gerrard, the villains’ technician and whose opinion has been transcendental in the operation. Gerrard, who was a teammate of Cou at Liverpool between January 2013 and June 2015, considered him “a magician” and believes that he will be able to return the brilliance he showed in the reds in this second stage in the Premier League.
Coutinho’s departure was understood to be transcendental in Barça’s offices once coach Xavi Hernández himself transferred his approval to Joan Laporta for not considering him key in their plans and the club had been working on solving the case for about a month, in collaboration with the player’s own agents, who understood the need to find an urgent solution if he wanted to maintain his status in the Brazilian team for the World Cup in Qatar.
Although in recent weeks Coutinho’s agents maintained contacts with various representatives with interests in various Premier League clubs (mainly Arsenal, Newcastle and Everton) and also received a call from Flamengo whose lack of financial muscle ruled him out immediately, it was the entry on the scene of Steven Gerrard, Aston Villa coach, which accelerated the operation, finalized and announced this Friday first thing in the morning.
In this way, the player closes his second stage at Barça (after the first assignment to Bayern Munich during the 2019-20 season) exactly four years after he was presented in style at the Camp Nou, converted into the signing record of a Barcelona in which its failure has been evident.
Incorporated on January 7, 2018 from Liverpool, Coutinho represented Barcelona a total transfer cost of 135 million euros, the highest in the history of the club and his performance never met the expectations created.
In his first half-season (2017-18) he played 22 official matches collaborating in the conquest of the League and Copa del Rey, playing 54 games in the following campaign in which he won the Spanish Super Cup and League, with an already much more discreet role that caused his loan for the following campaign to Bayern.
Back at the Camp Nou, after the German club did not make the purchase option effective and said goodbye to him by crushing Barça in the quarterfinals of the Lisbon Champions League, last season he barely participated in 14 games and added 16 this season, totaling 106 games (26 goals) as a complete statistic that shows the disaster that was his signing.