BARCELONA — Barcelona and Aston Villa are in talks to close the transfer of Philippe Coutinho to the English team for around 21 million dollars, several sources confirmed to ESPN.
Coutinho, 29, went on loan to Aston Villa during the winter market after only starting five LaLiga games during the first round of the championship.
The English team then secured a preferential option to sign Coutinho for 42 million dollars and the team’s own coach, Steven Gerrard, stated a few days ago that he would like to continue counting on the Brazilian international next season.
However, different sources admit to ESPN that Aston Villa is not willing to pay those 42 million dollars and, as Mundo Deportivo advanced on Monday, they are negotiating to pay a figure close to 21 to turn the transfer into a permanent transfer.
Barça paid Liverpool $170 million for Coutinho in January 2018 to make it the most expensive transfer in the club’s history. However, from the club they accept that his market value has plummeted since then and they are willing to let him out to save money during the last season that he would have left on his contract.
In addition, the sources acknowledge to ESPN that the Catalan club needs to close its sale before June 30 in order to include the operation in the economic balance of the 2021-2022 academic year.
For his part, Coutinho accepted a significant salary cut last January to rediscover his best level in the Premier League and try to go to the World Cup, understanding that he was not part of Xavi Hernández’s plans at Barcelona. At Villa Park, under Gerrard, his former Liverpool team-mate, the Brazilian started off strong, scoring four goals and three assists in 15 Premier League games. However, his importance in the team has been diminishing and he has not scored a goal since the victory against Leeds United on March 10.
The managers of Barcelona are very attentive to the operation to see how it would influence the wage bill. Barça is the only club in LaLiga with the negative limit (minus 144 million euros) and they are only allowed to invest 25 percent of what is generated in salary savings transfers until they are back within the established limits.
This same week Xavi Hernández acknowledged that the Catalan club had to rule out the signing of Erling Haaland due to the entity’s financial problems and the Norwegian footballer will sign for Manchester City in the coming days.
However, the club is still looking for alternatives in the market and, as ESPN has been reporting, it already has agreements to sign Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen and AC Milan midfielder Frank Kessié at zero cost from July 1.