Aston Villa and Barcelona have confirmed an agreement to take Philippe Coutinho back to the Premier League on loan.
The Brazilian will spend the rest of the season at Villa Park, subject to completing a medical and receiving a work permit, and Steven Gerrard’s side will have an option to buy at the end of the deal.
On the signing, Gerrard said: “I don’t think you get a nickname as a magician if you’re not a special footballer.”
The 29-year-old has been a peripheral figure at Camp Nou for a couple of years after joining the Catalan side from Liverpool in 2018.
While he still averages around a goal every four appearances for Barça, he has failed to cement a spot in their starting XI. The attacker spent the 2019/20 season on loan with Bayern Munich, where he scored 11 goals in 38 appearances.
However, no permanent deal materialised and he was back in La Liga last campaign, though injuries hampered his chances of building up any kind of form.
His move to Villa Park will see him reunite with manager Gerrard, whom he played alongside for two and a half seasons at Anfield.
Coutinho is the latest attacking incoming for Villa. During the summer, with the departure of Jack Grealish to Manchester City, Danny Ings, Emiliano Buendia and Leon Bailey were all signed, though their returns have been mixed so far.
Ings has scored four Premier League goals so far, while Buendia and Bailey have one apiece, with the latter struggling frequently with injuries.
Villa are currently 13th in England’s top flight, well clear of the relegation zone but significantly off the pace in the race for European qualification.
Gerrard’s side have a tough assignment in the FA Cup this weekend, taking on Manchester United at Old Trafford on Monday night, though it’s unlikely Coutinho will make his debut in that game.