In what must be considered a quite remarkable deal, Villa have confirmed the signing of Brazilian international star Philippe Coutinho.
The Barcelona midfielder will arrive in Birmingham within the next 48 hours for a medical, with the 29 year formally joining the club until the end of the season. The deal requires Coutinho to secure a work permit, but no obvious barriers to this being achieved have thus far emerged and are assumed at this stage a mere formality.
Whilst it’s easy to get beguiled by a big name, this is a signing that undeniably brings with it genuine excitement. It’s a head turner, there’s absolutely no denying. Coutinho has all of the attributes, ability, profile and aura of a true marquee signing. It’s also a piece of business that will have Villa fans pondering a comparable signing, especially within a January window. We are certainly not accustomed to absorbing such announcements over our morning coffee.
For Villa supporters at least, the news delivers great cause for optimism and hopefully ushers in a new era in the football clubs proud history. For many fans, particularly those who have followed the club throughout recent years, it has been recurring themes of false promises, measured against a backdrop of increasingly distant successes.
We were at risk of being defined by our past, being trophyless since 1996 and having suffered relegation from the top table of English football in 2015. The difficult times do make the better times all the more sweeter though.
The club’s present owners are clearly ambitious, but unlike all of their modern predecessors, are taking pragmatic steps to give Villa their best opportunity for success in a generation. With this latest deal, as with a number of club record transfers that precede it, they are also firmly putting their money where their mouths are too.
What started as a mere rumour a few days ago, moved at pace as even seasoned football reporters and commentators refused to acknowledge the possibility of the deal taking place. As the story developed and Villa’s interest was confirmed, the statement of intent alone forced a number of mouthpieces within the game to take note. It’s a very real statement indeed, done with professionalism and commercial astuteness.
This signing comes with risks for Villa, no doubt, that we daren’t blinker ourselves to. Coutinho is known to be on big wages, thought to be around £380k per week. Any subsidy will be costly on any sliding scale. However, Villa will surely have leveraged Barca’s financial predicament favourably. It was widely reported that they had been prevented from completing the transfer of Fernan Torres, needing to make room on their balance sheet due to get within an imposed salary cap.
There is also the subject of form and fitness. Only time will tell on this one, but this is not a player with a CV that suggests failure. Coutinho will also be linking back up with his ‘idol’ Steven Gerrard, Villa’s current boss and his former Liverpool team-mate.
The terms of the deal provide Villa with an option to buy clause. This gives Villa an advantage, with the aim to see the Brazilian shine in the Premier League, whilst offsetting some of the risk that in doing so, he isn’t immediately snapped up by another club in the summer of 2022.
Coutinho, described by Gerrard as a “serial winner”, looks likely to make his debut in Villa’s home fixture against Manchester United (15th January).
For now, we sit tight for the formalities to complete and an official unveiling. This is an interesting and exciting time to follow Aston Villa.
“SERIAL WINNER”Embed from Getty Images
Coutinho joins Villa with a proven and excellent winning pedigree:
- Copa America Winner with Brazil (2019)
- Champions League with Bayern Munich (2020)
- Bundesliga Championship with Bayern (2020)
- German Domestic Cup winner.
- 4x Spanish Domestic Cups with Barcelona
- 1x Spanish Super Cup with Barcelona
- 2x Italian Domestic Cups with Inter Milan
The 29 year old made a £142m move to Barcelona from Liverpool in 2018, but this was a transfer that never reached the heights of what many had predicted. Whilst the midfielder has struggled for form, fitness and favour at the Catalan giants, his success at Bayern stands in stark contrast.
Coutinho’s arrival in Spain coincided with the end of a hugely successful era for Barcelona. This was a period where the likes of Iniesta were hanging up their boots and a change of guard was in motion. Additionally, Barca’s serious financial woes began to not only impact their balance sheet, but their ability to compete on the pitch too. It was revealed last August that Barcelona were wrestling with a £1.35 BILLION debt, dictating not only their business in the transfer market but placing significant strain upon meeting their existing liabilities.
Goals and assists at Bayern Munich (2019/20):