Barcelona attacking midfielder Philippe Coutinho has joined Premier League side Aston Villa on loan till the end of the season, with an option to buy. The negotiations between the Catalan side and Villa were finalised on Friday, and the deal will see the Midlands club pay the bulk of the Brazilian’s astronomical salary.

Countinho had several suitors for a January move, but chose Villa. Reportedly, the 29-year-old’s decision to join Villa was in part because of the presence of his former Liverpool team mate Steven Gerrard, who is the manager of the English side.

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Earlier on Thursday, Gerrard had heaped praise on Coutinho, saying, “He’s won two league titles at Barcelona, two Copa del Reys. If you go and have a look at his Wiki page you’ll see a serial winner wherever he goes. He’s won 63 caps for Brazil, played for Barcelona and was incredible at Liverpool.”

“So I can understand why he’s linked to a lot of football clubs. I can understand why a lot of supporters up and down the country are speaking about him. I don’t think you get a nickname of ‘The Magician’ if you’re not a special footballer,” Gerrard further said.

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Gerrard knows only too well that Coutinho is no stranger the to Premier League and was a star performer at Liverpool between 2013 and 2018, with 152 appearances and 41 goals. The attacking midfielder then signed for Spanish giants Barcelona in 2018 for an initial transfer fee of £105 million, going up to a potential £142 million if certain clauses were triggered.

Despite his much celebrated big money move, Countinho failed to settle in the Catalan and side was loaned to Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich the following year. Countinho went on to win the Champions League with Bayern on loan, beating and scoring against Barcelona in a thumping win in the quarter-finals, before returning to Catalonia last season.

Countinho’s move to Villa will be finalised upon successful completion of a medical at Birmingham in the next 48 hours.