Aston Villa

Aston Villa

Premier League • England

Gerrard in heaven with LaLiga giant ‘desperate’ to forge new Aston Villa transfer agreement

Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard greeting Philippe Coutinho

A Steven Gerrard transfer masterstroke could be even better than first thought after a report revealed how Aston Villa could capitalise on Barcelona’s desperation over Philippe Coutinho.

Gerrard was believed to be instrumental in his side’s ability to lure Coutinho to Villa Park last month. The Brazilian, 29, has made an immediate impact on his return to England, with two goals and a pair of assists to his name already.

Coutinho ran the show against Leeds United on Wednesday night. What’s more, any concerns over his physical fitness and capabilities were dispelled when excelling against arguably the league’s fittest team.

The former Liverpool favourite was signed on a six-month loan deal, with Villa negotiating an option to buy for £33m.

His early form would suggest pursuing that route is a no-brainer, and Gerrard even hinted the best is yet to come in the post-match fallout on Wednesday.

£33m could represent a bargain for a player of Coutinho’s class. However, according to the Birmingham Mail, the deal could be even sweeter for Villa.

Coutinho available for less than £33m

They state the £33m fee is not ‘fixed’. In other words, Villa can attempt to negotiate a lower fee with Barcelona if they wish.

One might expect Barcelona would demand a higher sum given Coutinho’s stellar showings. However, their financial woes are deemed so pressing that it’s claimed they may be willing to accept even less.

Barcelona are struggling to earmark enough cash to pay the wages of their new signings. Ferran Torres, Adama Traore and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang all arrived at the Camp Nou last month.

Aston Villa to battle Besiktas for Arsenal striker Lacazette

Aston Villa to battle Besiktas for Arsenal striker Lacazette

Aston Villa will battle Besiktas for Alexander Lacazette as striker set to leave Arsenal for free

As such, their ‘desperation’ to rid Coutinho’s salary from their books could see them accept as little as £25m in the summer.

While that will be music to the ears of Villa and Gerrard, a deal is not necessarily straightforward.

That’s because of Coutinho’s colossal salary – a reported £380,000-per-week.

Philippe Coutinho on his second Premier Lague debut for Aston Villa against Manchester United at Villa Park

Villa are noted to be paying £125,000 of that amount at present. But if they are to sign Coutinho permanently in the summer, they will need to stump up a whole lot more.

Of course, Coutinho could agree to a pay-cut with the move arguably in the best interests of his footballing career. But precisely how big of a reduction he would be willing to take, only time will tell.

Jacob Ramsey to Arsenal talked up

Meanwhile, doubts have been expressed over the suitability of a target Arsenal chased in January, with one pundit suggesting Aston Villa ace Jacob Ramsey would be a better bet.

Arsenal chased Juventus midfielder Arthur Melo for much of the winter window. A loan deal had been floated, though the length of the stint ultimately torpedoed the move. Juventus sought an 18-month loan, while Arsenal refused to commit beyond a six-month stay.

Now, speaking to online outlet Caught Offside, former Arsenal title winner Michael Thomas has suggested Arsenal may have dodged a bullet over Arthur. Instead, Thomas would like to see Arsenal sign Aston Villa ace Jacob Ramsey.

Gerrard previously went on record to state Ramsey is better than he was at the same age. Ramsey’s brace against Leeds United on Wednesday brought his tally to four goals in his last six league matches.

Thomas talked up a future move to north London for Ramsey, and claimed the youngster may be on the move after one more year at Villa Park.

“I wasn’t convinced about Arthur coming to Arsenal,” said Thomas. “I see him as a really good ball player. But he doesn’t possess the physical attributes to get around the pitch to complement that ability.

“One player I have been really impressed with is Jacob Ramsey from Aston Villa. I think he has at least another year there, but would love to see him join Arsenal.”

READ MORE: Arteta’s ‘one to watch’ as path clears for Arsenal raid on Villa, with Gerrard nailing costly replacement