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Transfer Spotlight: Aston Villa’s Philippe Coutinho

14 Years of senior level football experience lands one of Brazil’s veterans in Aston Villa for six months on loan and maybe more

Aston Villa v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

On 7 January 2022, Aston Villa announced the signing of Brazilian right footed left-winger Philippe Coutinho from Barcelona with an option to buy for £33 m. Aston Villa currently sits around the middle of the English Premier League table within a cluster of six clubs spanning four points from 10th through 15th ranking. The Birmingham club is currently managed by the one and only Steven Gerrard. The former Liverpool central midfielder is working on a project and his old Anfield teammate Coutinho did not need much convincing to become a new, integral part of it.

Aston Villa has played two matches since Coutinho’s arrival. In his debut match in mid-January against Manchester United at Villa Park, Coutinho was substituted in at 68’ with quick effect, assisting his teammate Ramsey nine minutes later and then scoring himself five minutes on to cancel United’s lead as the match ended in a 2-2 draw. His performance earned him a start in GW-23 on the road against Everton without any scoring returns before he was subbed off at 74’.


Background

Born 12 June 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, 7-year old Coutinho and his father were approached by Vasco de Gama’s youth couch. The boy attended the trial and joined the club where he spent nine years until he hit the age of 16. That was when Italian giant Inter Milan signed the young man but he remained at Vasco de Gama for two more years since FIFA banned the international transfer of players before the age of 18. He thrived at the Brazilian club, becoming a key first team player despite his youth.

Coutinho joined Inter Milan officially upon turning 18 in 2010; however he struggled for more than a year to break into the first team leading to agreeing to a loan deal at Espanyol in La Liga for less than half a season. He returned to Inter during his last year of the contract to warm the bench for the most part of his time in Italy.

in January 2013, Liverpool signed Coutinho for £8.5m based on the recommendation of Rafa Benitez who believed he would become a world class player. Four years later, Coutinho’s performance at Liverpool earned him another five-year extension deal which would have kept him until 2022. This is the time when interest from other clubs spiked, specifically Barcelona. As reported by interviews at the time, Coutinho had dreamed of playing in La Liga for either Barcelona or Real Madrid. He worked the media relentlessly to push the transfer to Barcelona through despite numerous attempts from Liverpool management to convince him of staying for their upcoming project in 2018.

The special style of football that Barcelona plays (which mainly depended on Lionel Messi) did not allow for Coutinho to bring his best like many other expensive signings by the Catalan club in 2018-2019 which plummeted their financials. Barcelona were forced to offload players including Coutinho, who was not a fan favourite following 54 appearances over two seasons bringing only five goals scored. A loan to Bayern Munich in 2019-20 gave too little to support Bayern’s bid for winning the treble at the end of that season. His return to Barcelona coincided with the hiring of Ronald Koeman. The circumstances were not ideal at the club, as the former key Liverpool player struggled to find a place in the starting 11.


How Will Coutinho fit at Aston Villa

A right-footed left winger, Coutinho is finally poised to be positioned at his natural spot on the field. His time at Liverpool saw him taking the central midfielder spot more often. He seems to be part of the plan that Aston Villa and Gerrard are cooking for the Birmingham club and therefore he should be a regular starter. Surrounding talents Emiliano Buendia and Ollie Watkins have recently established themselves as key players at the front line of Gerrard’s lineup. Coutinho should have no trouble completing the main forward trio in place of the team’s other wingers.

Considering his experience in central midfield as well, Gerrard will have no trouble asking him to step up if needed. Coutinho may have finally found his calling post in the Liverpool era.

Since I mostly remember him for his brilliant screamers during his stint at Liverpool, here is a reminder:

In addition to his considerable talents on the pitch, Coutinho will bestow his knowledge and experience to a side holding a pool of future talent waiting to be polished. If successful, Villa could end up breaking through its current mid-table stature into even more respectable rankings in the near future.


Fantasy Prospects

There is no doubt that Coutinho will be a regular in the starting lineup for Villa. Coutinho’s last spell in the Premier League with Liverpool consists of 153 appearance and 137 starts. He scored 41 goals and made 36 assists as per stats website fbref.com. Noting that post-Liverpool he struggled to become a key player or at least a regular starter, I would wait for a while before picking him up, but if his history in EPL is any indication then he would be a regular on many FPL squads, priced at £7.0m. Following his exploits against Man United, Courinho was the most transferred in player during GW-22:

Coutinho should be Gerrard’s choice to take free kicks and corners often. However, his effect on fantasy in the long run may come to light differently; given his high prociency with both feet, Coutinho may prove to be more of an assist / play building leader for Aston Villa which would bring out the best in other players to rack up the points. My advice is to keep an eye on all Aston Villa players around the Brazilian and study how their performance changes with his presence, as you may get a golden chance for differential points from others as well.


Stats and info for this article were sourced from en.wikipedia.org, espn.com, transfermrt.us, google.com, fbref.com,and skysports.com.

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Is Coutinho on your FPL watch list? Do you even have him already? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.


Poll

Would you purchase Coutinho for your FPL squad?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    I already did!
    (1 vote)
  • 14%
    He has been integrated in my short term plan (within 5 GWs)
    (1 vote)
  • 57%
    I am keeping an eye on him. maybe later!
    (4 votes)
  • 14%
    I think there are better prospects with lower prices so NO!
    (1 vote)
7 votes total Vote Now