Philippe Coutinho’s nightmare spell at Barcelona finally came to an end on Wednesday night, when it was confirmed that he had agreed to join Aston Villa on a permanent basis, signing a four-year deal.
The Brazilian playmaker has been in fantastic form since arriving at Villa Park on loan in January – and is believed to have taken a substantial pay cut in order to continue playing in the Premier League.
The news, which was announced during Villa’s end-of-season awards dinner, will have been welcomed by boss Steven Gerrard – who had reportedly made keeping Coutinho at the club his top priority this summer.
In order to seal his permanent switch, though, Coutinho had to accept a drastic reduction in wages from the £470,000-per-week that he had been pocketing at Camp Nou.
Per a report from the Telegraph’s John Percy, Coutinho is expected to earn around £125,000-per-week at Villa – a drop of more than 70% from his Barcelona deal.
As lucrative as his four-year spell in Catalunya was, however, Coutinho saw much playing time during his final years at Barca, often relegated to a periphery role on the bench.
Barcelona, too, have taken a considerable hit in ending their ill-fated relationship with Coutinho – recouping just £17 million of the £142m that they paid Liverpool for him in January 2018.
With more than 12 months still to run on his Barcelona deal, Coutinho could quite easily have opted to sit and collect his massive Barcelona until next summer.
His willingness to sacrifice such an eye-watering sum each week in order to play regular football as he bids for a place in Brazil’s World Cup squad has been praised by fans on Reddit.
“He really wants to play for Brazil still. He got back into the squad after joining us. I think he’s learned that being at a club where he enjoys his football is the most important thing,” chimed in one Villa supporter.
“It’s only fair that he celebrates this move by scoring 5 goals in the last match of the season,” joked a second.
“That’s a huge cut and show of intent. Hopefully, it’s a good move for all involved,” declared another response.
“Can say quite a few things about the guy, but he is willing to put his money where his mouth is at least,” recognised another poster, while a final comment pointed out just how wasteful Barcelona had been in paying a player almost £500,000-per-week to sit on the bench:
“Sometimes I’ll forget how absolutely atrocious Barca’s deals were and I’ll be reminded like this!”
It’s only fitting that the final word be left to the man himself, who seemingly couldn’t be happier to have made Villa his permanent home.
I am really happy and excited about the present and future,” said Coutinho of the deal, per The Mirror. “I’ve been made to feel very welcome since day one. I’ve enjoyed it so much. I believe so much in the squad that we can achieve really good things next year and I am really excited for the next season already.