Aston Villa are close to agreeing a loan deal with Qatari side Al Duhail to offload 31-year-old playmaker Philippe Coutinho.

According to Fabrizio Romano, Philippe Coutinho is inching closer to joining Qatari side Al Duhail on a loan deal from Aston Villa. The 31-year-old playmaker does not feature in Unai Emery’s plans at the Premier League side and will have looked for options to leave the club even earlier.

The Philippe Coutinho move to Aston Villa from Barcelona made complete sense at the time, with the player able to play without the pressure at the Midlands club. However, the decision from then-manager Steven Gerrard to pay a staggering €20 million fee to sign him permanently baffled some, and some had an odd feeling about it.

Not only did Coutinho fail to perform, his form seemed off compared to how he was during the loan spell. Many fans had then realised that the €20 million might have been a waste of money on a player looking far from his best.

Coutinho’s career had been dovetailing since moving out of Liverpool in a massive deal. While at Barcelona, he underwhelmed and even had a ‘treble-winning loan spell at Bayern Munich. Hence, the trophies and accolades have flown for the 31-year-old playmaker during his troubled years, and as things stand, it’s not working out at Aston Villa.

As soon as Unai Emery arrived at the club last season, he had rendered the 31-year-old playmaker to a fringe role. This season, the serious knee injury suffered by Emi Buendia may have momentarily opened the door for Coutinho to make his mark. Still, the arrival of Nicolo Zaniolo instantly shut that chance.

Not many clubs are willing to take the Brazilian, and it’s quite surprising that the Saudis haven’t come in for the 31-year-old playmaker. Now, Qatari side Al Duhail are on the verge of taking Coutinho on a season-long loan deal and will cover his salary in full.

It may appear like a good deal for Aston Villa, but the 31-year-old still has a contract until 2026. Hence, Emery’s side will hope the Brazilian performs at his best, and Al Duhail makes a permanent move for him next summer. Even if other clubs come in for him, Villa could sell for a decent fee.

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