Premier League side Aston Villa have reportedly opened talks to make Philippe Coutinho’s loan move from Barcelona permanent.

According to 90min, Aston Villa have formally approached Barcelona regarding a permanent transfer for Philippe Coutinho. Steven Gerrard’s side are eager to permanently sign the Brazilian playmaker after being impressed with him during his short stint so far upon his return to England. The Premier League side can sign him for €40 million in the summer window as per a clause in his loan deal.

Coutinho returned to England to join Aston Villa on a six-month loan from Barcelona during the January transfer window. The former Liverpool midfielder has been an instant hit, scoring four and assisting three goals in ten Premier League appearances.

His first appearance back in the Premier League came against Manchester United, where he scored in a 22-minute second-half spell to help Villa draw the encounter 2-2. With Coutinho hitting prime form, Aston Villa are eager to tie him down to a permanent deal in the hope he can recreate some of the magic he did with Liverpool.

The Brazilian joined the Reds in a €13 million move from Inter Milan in 2013 and spent five years at Anfield. He grew into the club’s most important player during that period, scoring 54 goals and assisting 45 more in 201 matches. Coutinho was then sold to Barcelona in the 2018 January transfer window for a club-record €160 million fee.

The grass wasn’t greener for the Brazilian over in Spain as he struggled to break into the Barcelona starting lineup. A loan spell to Bayern Munich followed after 18 months of inconsistency. In Bavaria, he scored 11 and made nine assists in 38 matches and the Blaugrana hoped that he would continue in a similar vein but that didn’t quite happen.

Another period of inconsistency followed in Barcelona, after which he joined Aston Villa. Coutinho has made 106 appearances for the Catalans, scoring 25 and assisting 14 goals. But with a fruitful loan spell in Villa, the 29-year-old has a chance to resurrect his career under his former Liverpool teammate, Gerrard, who has made it no secret that he wants the Brazilian to join the Villans permanently.

Villa are reportedly optimistic about completing the signing, but one aspect that could cause a hiccup is Coutinho’s wage demands. He earns somewhere close to £500,000-a-week at Barcelona, a sum that Villa could struggle to pay. Coutinho, thus, will have to take a pay cut but could be persuaded if the club offer a long contract.

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