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Former Liverpool Duo Bringing Success To Villa

Former Liverpool Duo Bringing Success To Villa

Philippe Coutinho looks like a player reborn under Steven Gerrard at Aston Villa. The 29-year-old had become a laughing stock at Barcelona following his £105million switch in January 2018 but has been reborn in the Premier League, scoring four goals and assisting three more in just 10 appearances at a rate of one goal contribution every 111.14 minutes. In stark contrast, Coutinho managed the same number of goal contributions (five goals, one assist) in his last season-and-a-half at Barcelona, doing so at a rate of one every 200 minutes.


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Career Slump

The Brazilian’s career had taken a dramatic downward turn after he swapped Merseyside for Catalonia in January 2018.

By the summer of 2019, Barcelona were looking to offload Coutinho and he joined Bayern Munich on a season-long loan, but the German giants declined to make the move permanent.

However, he looks revived now, having re-connected with former team-mate Gerrard at Villa Park.



Liverpool Connection Bearing Fruit

The pair shared a pitch for a total of 5,272 minutes – across 81 games – for Liverpool, and were both part of the midfield diamond shape used in their ultimately unsuccessful Premier League title bid in 2013-14.

Their connection is bearing fruit once more in Birmingham, with the arrival of both former Merseysiders this season helping to change Villa’s fortunes after a poor start to the season, and they now sit ninth in the table.

Gerrard was appointed in November after seven defeats from Villa’s opening 11 Premier League fixtures saw Dean Smith removed from his position, overseeing four wins and four defeats in his first eight outings in the competition.

Since Coutinho arrived, results followed a similar pattern, with another four wins, four defeats and two draws following in the subsequent 10 games.

The loan deal that brought the Brazilian back to England includes a purchase option of €40million, which Villa will surely give serious consideration to exercising, given Coutinho’s performances so far.

United Without Champions League Football

United Without Champions League Football

Gerrard Comments

Gerrard insists no decision has been made, however.

He said: “When he's comfortable, he's happy and he's enjoying his football we all know we're dealing with a world-class talent.

“For me, it doesn't make sense to make any decisions now or say anything else on this, we just need to keep enjoying him and keep him healthy from now until the end of the season.”



Coutinho To Fill Grealish Hole

The £100million sale of Jack Grealish to Manchester City last summer left a gaping hole in the Villa squad, which they attempted to fill, in part at least, with the signings of Emi Buendia and Leon Bailey.

However, neither player has been able to produce regularly in the final third. Bailey has only managed one goal and two assists amidst an injury-hit campaign, while Buendia has mustered just two goals and four assists in 1,713 minutes across all competitions.

Despite their improvement since mid-November, the Villans remain 10 points behind eighth-placed Wolves – albeit with a game in hand – and certainly have more room to grow as they look to further their ambitious project and join the pack competing for a European place next season.

The permanent capture of Coutinho this summer would be a real coup for the Villans, and Gerrard, in the pursuit of that goal.

 

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