Aston Villa 'in driving seat' to land £33m star 'loyal to Gerrard'

Aston Villa are ‘in the driving seat’ to complete the permanent signing of Philippe Coutinho thanks to his loyalty towards Villa Park head coach Steven Gerrard, according to transfer insider Dean Jones.

Coutinho sealed his return to the Premier League by joining on a season-long loan from La Liga giants Barcelona during the early stages of the January window, but the deal includes the option of being made permanent for £33million.

What’s the latest news involving Coutinho?

Gerrard described Coutinho as ‘world-class’ prior to being reunited with his former Liverpool team-mate and the 41-year-old has publicly confirmed he wants to see the Brazilian remain at Villa beyond the end of the season.

Although Gerrard insisted owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens are ‘ambitious’, he conceded making the switch permanent ‘is not as straightforward as people think’ despite the £33million option written into the initial loan agreement.

That has put Premier League rivals on red alert and, according to Spanish sources, Newcastle United are ready to pounce if Villa are unable to keep big-name creative midfielder Coutinho in the Midlands.

The report suggests the Magpies, through intermediaries, have already shown an interest in the 68-cap Brazil international and would be willing to offer a lucrative salary in order to lure him to St James’ Park.

Arsenal are also understood to be readying a move, while Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United could reportedly enter the race for Coutinho’s services if he fails to commit his long-term future to Villa.

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What has Dean Jones said about Coutinho?

Jones believes Coutinho still sees Villa as his first choice option heading into the summer window.

The transfer insider reckons the 29-year-old is keen to continue working under Gerrard, who he had already built a strong bond with over the course of 81 appearances alongside each other for Liverpool.

Jones told GIVEMESPORT: “I think it’s important to understand that Coutinho is loyal to Gerrard and, at this point, Villa are very much in the driving seat to sign him.”

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Why could Coutinho opt against staying at Villa?

It is clear that Villa will be unable to match the £380,000-per-week salary Coutinho boasts on his current Barcelona contract, which is set to expire in just over 12 months.

That is far beyond the amount Villa’s current top-earner rakes in, with Danny Ings’ agreement being worth £120,000 every seven days.

Failing to qualify for Europe could also result in Coutinho’s head being turned by other suitors, with Villa currently sitting in mid-table and adrift of the top six heading into the final stages of the campaign.

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