Philippe Coutinho has been in stunning form for Aston Villa since arriving in the Midlands on loan from Barcelona in January.
The 29-year-old has made seven-goal contributions in nine games and looks every bit a world-class talent. After Barcelona smashed their transfer record to sign him just four years ago, it’s no surprise that Villa fans have already been treated to some outstanding performances from the diminutive playmaker since he joined, even if he had struggled for form in Spain.
Villa has an option to buy Coutinho permanently at the end of the season when his loan switch expires. Boss Steven Gerrard admits he is desperate for the club to sanction the deal, but explained it isn’t as “straightforward” as some might expect.
He said: “I think you all know what my decision would be. I think you all know what I think of him but this is not as straightforward as people think. There is obviously an option in place, Barcelona still owns the player.
“Phil has got to obviously want to be here in terms of the big picture but he is enjoying his football and looks happy and settled. I know the owners are very ambitious, so we will just analyze it as we go along. But if it was totally on me and it was my cash you know what I would do.”
Gerrard has also insisted no decision on Coutinho’s long-term future would be made before the end of the season. He, along with Villa’s recruitment team will then discuss the possibility of a permanent for the Barcelona star.
Coutinho arrived at Villa Park in January off the back of a tricky start to the La Liga season. He started just six of the club’s first 19 league games and failed to show his true quality as a result of a lack of match fitness.
During his first interview with Villa – after he joined on a six-month deal – he made no bones about where he wanted to make an influence under Gerrard. Coutinho said: