Aston Villa have got serious rivals to sign Philippe Coutinho after Newcastle reportedly threw their hat into the ring.
What is more the Geordies, backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) are understood to be ready to pay the going rate for the midfielder. The news, via Goal, will not be welcomed at Villa Park, with their boss Steven Gerrard intent on signing the 29-year-old.
Gerrard, who played with Coutinho at Liverpool, took a gamble on the Brazilian in January.
Aston Villa landed the player on loan until the end of the season, with a purchase option thrown in. That option, according to The Atheltic sits at £34m, but Villa are reluctant to meet that price tag.
Gerrard undoubtedly wants to keep Coutinho, who started well at Villa Park.
He has since faded, but has still made 15 appearances, collecting four goals and three assists.
“I think you all know what my decision would be,” Gerrard said in March, when asked about Coutinho. “There is obviously an option in place, Barcelona still own the player. Phil has got to obviously want to be here in terms of the big picture but he is enjoying his football and looks happy and settled.
“I know the owners are very ambitious, so we will just analyse it as we go along. But if it was totally on me and it was my cash you know what I would do.”
Villa ‘agreement’ in place
Villa are understood to be paying just 25 per cent of Coutinho’s mammoth wages at Barcelona. The former Liverpool man is under contract for another season at the Camp Nou, but he has accepted he will move on this summer.
And Mundo Deportivo, via Sport Witness, state that Villa have come to an agreement with Barca over a fee.
While they are reluctant to pay the £34m, Barca will agree to a deal between £12.84m and £17m, per the source.
It’s claimed the Catalan club are “about to transfer” the player to Villa, but Newcastle may have a say.
It sounds like the Spanish outlet are jumping the gun. And Fabrizio Romano states Villa will hold talks over the permanent signing of Coutinho at the end of the season.
And Newcastle will be in there waiting if Villa cannot get a deal together.
Gerrard and Villa have first refusal after landing the player on loan. But Newcastle could have the financial muscle to gazump Villa.
Newcastle ready to pay £34m Coutinho fee
Goal claims the Magpies are “willing to pay the same fee for Coutinho and have already made direct contact with Barca over a potential transfer”.
The fee in question is the £34m that has been written into Coutinho’s loan arrangement.
If that proves correct then Villa will face a huge obstacle to land Coutinho, who was left out of Gerrard’s starting XI for Villa’s 3-1 win over Burnley.
Emiliano Buendia replaced him, but Gerrard explained the schedule was to blame.
“We want Philippe Coutinho here for sure. We have five games in 15 days so Phil and Emi [Buendia] will both get enough game time to keep themselves satisfied.
“As a club, we want to be in a place where games come thick and fast. Phil understood the decision, he has played a lot. There are no egos here,” said Gerrard.