Barcelona are hoping to offload Philippe Coutinho by the end of the week after reports revealed the state of play regarding Aston Villa’s pursuit of the playmaker.
Philippe Coutinho has emerged as a major target for Aston Villa in January. Such a move would reunite him with former Liverpool teammate Steven Gerrard. It would be quite the coup for a Villa side who remain ambitious.
Things have not gone to plan for Coutinho since he left Liverpool for Barcelona in 2018. Now, the La Liga giants are desperately trying to offload their underwhelming highest earner.
All signs point to a Premier League return and Villa have emerged as his most concrete suitors.
Now, Diario Sport (via Sport Witness) have confirmed that negotiations between Villa and Barcelona for the Coutinho transfer are making good progress. However, some obstacles remain.
Mainly, Barcelona want any loan deal Villa complete to contain an obligation to buy. If that is the case, Villa may have to get creative with how to accommodate Coutinho’s wages in the long term.
They are hoping Barca will cover half of Coutinho’s wages for the duration of his loan spell. If they sign him permanently, though, they may have to convince him to take on a lower salary.
Barcelona need to sell Coutinho to sign Morata
Barcelona need to sell before they can sign players and Tottenham and Arsenal are the prime location for Coutinho
Therefore, Coutinho still has to decide whether he would accept the transfer. Furthermore, his representatives are waiting to see if any other clubs more capable of challenging for trophies immediately present their own offers.
Still, Barcelona want to accelerate the Coutinho transfer so they can make space to register former Manchester City forward Ferran Torres.
Gerrard pushing through Coutinho transfer
What’s more, Coutinho is warming to the idea of joining Villa thanks to Gerrard. They shared a pitch 81 times together for Liverpool between 2013 and 2015.
Now, Sport claim Gerrard’s advances have been convincing for Coutinho, salary issues aside. In addition, El Partidazo De Cope reiterate Gerrard has been personally calling his former teammate.
Work is underway for a short-term Coutinho transfer until June, although it is clear from Sport‘s information that Barcelona would have no plans to take him back thereafter.
Therefore, the most significant hurdle for Villa to overcome would be to convince Coutinho to commit to them long-term – both from a financial and sporting perspective.
Gerrard is clearly putting the work in to ensure the Coutinho transfer happens, though. His first signing as Villa boss, then, could be an exciting one.
Aston Villa make approach for ‘next Gareth Bale’
Meanwhile, Aston Villa have reportedly made an approach as they aim to win the race for Aaron Hickey, who has been labelled ‘a young Gareth Bale’.
Glasgow-born Hickey spent time at Celtic before joining Hearts. He broke into the first team there during the 2019-20 campaign and went on to make 34 appearances, mostly at left-back.
The 19-year-old clearly made a big impression as Serie A outfit Bologna came calling in September 2020. They paid around £1.5million to make Hickey the first British player in their history.
Hickey’s debut season was disrupted by him catching coronavirus and a shoulder injury, limiting him to just 11 league appearances. But he is making more of an impact this time around – specifically four goals in 19 outings thus far.
Gerrard is hoping to take Hickey to Aston Villa, according to Sky Sports reporter Rob Dorsett. The journalist claims Villa have made an initial approach to discover Bologna’s willingness to sell.
Dorsett states Gerrard is looking for a new left-back to challenge existing option Matt Targett. Everton man Lucas Digne is also on his radar.
However, the Villans are not alone in admiring Hickey, who is comfortable operating as a left midfielder too.
Maurizio Sarri’s Lazio are also keeping tabs on the Scotland U21 international. They could rival Gerrard’s side if a bid comes to fruition.