Philippe Coutinho is coming back to the Premier League and will reunite with former Liverpool teammate Steven Gerrard at Aston Villa.
Barcelona have accepted an offer that will see the Brazilian join Villa on loan until the end of the season thanks to his relationship with manager Gerrard.
Coutinho is the third most expensive footballer of all time, joining Barcelona from Liverpool in a deal worth up to £142million in 2018.
The Brazil international has since struggled to replicate his stunning form in Spain, managing only 30 appearances over the past two seasons.
Coutinho won a treble while on loan at Bayern Munich in 2020, but links with a return to the Premier League have always remained.
talkSPORT host Tony Cascarino had earlier backed Coutinho for a move to Villa to join ex-Liverpool captain Gerrard before the links emerged.
Coutinho was signed by Liverpool for just £8.5m from Inter in 2013 and went on to record 41 goals and 35 assists in 152 games in the Premier League.
The versatile attacking midfielder became a first-team regular under manager Brendan Rodgers during the 2013/14 season, helping Liverpool compete for, and narrowly miss out on, the title.
Villa manager Gerrard played alongside him in that team and has long had high praise for the Brazilian.
“He’s impossible to defend against,” Gerrard said in 2017.
“When I used to train against him I’d hate it. When I was on the opposition 5-aside team, I wouldn’t go near him.
“Sometimes I’d say to him ‘keep away from me’ because he can embarrass you.
“If he stands you up he can go both ways, he’s got such a low centre of gravity, he’s so sharp, he does it so quick, and he’s two or three steps ahead of defenders, he’s so, so clever.”
Gerrard also praised Coutinho when he completed his move to Barcelona, which he admitted left him ‘hurt’ and feeling ‘sick’, but nevertheless thanked him for his contribution at Anfield.
“It hurts you have left because you are a special player,” wrote Gerrard on Instagram. “Up there with the best I shared a pitch with.
“I want to wish you and your family all the best for the next stage of your career in Barcelona.
“Thank you for the special moments and memories over the last five years. YNWA”.
And the praise was mutual, with Coutinho revealing he studied the legendary Reds skipper, who helped him becoming a better playing during his spell on Merseyside.
“Steve, thanks so much for your kind words,” Coutinho wrote in reply to Gerrard’s post. “It was an honour for me to play with such a legend as yourself.
“I learnt a lot from you knowing you both off the pitch in my family life and also on the pitch.
“Thank you for all your support and encouragement in my years at Liverpool. “Your belief in me helped me become a better player.”
It all bodes well for the Holte End faithful this season.
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