Aston Villa have secured the loan signing of Philippe Coutinho from Barcelona in what could be the biggest move of the January transfer window – and he could go straight into their Premier League XI.
The Barcelona winger has been allowed to leave the club by new boss Xavi, and is has signed on a six-month loan deal with his Nou Camp contract running until the summer of 2023.
The Brazil international has 17 goals across just 76 league appearances since his £142million Anfield departure – winning both La Liga and the Copa del Rey twice despite individual struggles.
Despite winning the treble while on loan at Bayern Munich, Coutinho has not been able to find his best form on his return to Spain – and could now be rescued by his former team-mate.
Villa announced the switch on Friday morning, subject to completing a medical and receiving a work permit, and it also includes an option to buy.
The full statement reads: "Aston Villa and FC Barcelona have agreed terms for Philippe Coutinho to spend the rest of this season on loan at Villa Park.
"The agreement, which is subject to the player completing a medical and receiving a work permit, also includes an option to buy and Philippe will travel to Birmingham in the next 48 hours."
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The arrival of the creative midfielder is set to boost Villa's slim chances of securing European qualification from their Premier League position, while giving Gerrard a dilemma.
The former Rangers boss made 81 appearances alongside Coutinho during their time together at Liverpool, and it is likely that he will be looking for an instant impact.
Although that would be great news for the fans, it could see club icon Ashley Young slip down to the bench with Coutinho taking a place as creator-in-chief for Ollie Watkins.
So how could the new Villa look after the January transfer window closes? Emiliano Martinez is set to continue in goal, having made his name as one of the most consistent goalkeepers in the division.
Matty Cash, Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings, Matt Targett could then continue at the back, having looked far more solid as a united since Gerrard replaced Dean Smith.
John McGinn, Douglas Luiz, Jacob Ramsey could then be deployed as a trio in midfield, with Luiz playing as the anchor.
That leaves an attacking duo of Emiliano Buendia and Coutinho behind Watkins, which might well be interchangeable with Danny Ings.
Aston Villa XI with Philippe Coutinho:
Emiliano Martinez; Matty Cash, Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings, Matt Targett; John McGinn, Douglas Luiz, Jacob Ramsey; Emiliano Buendia, Philippe Coutinho, Ollie Watkins.
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