Philippe Coutinho’s ‘key factor’ in snubbing Arsenal and Newcastle for Aston Villa move

Transfer window will not solve Tottenham's 'situation', Antonio Conte says

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Philippe Coutinho is believed to have had a clear reason for wanting to join Aston Villa instead of the likes of Arsenal or Newcastle. The Brazil international had been strongly linked with a return to the Premier League after failing to impress again at Barcelona.

The driving force behind Coutinho’s decision to join Aston Villa was to work with former Liverpool team-mate Steven Gerrard.

That is according to The Athletic, who write it was a ‘key factor’ for the 29-year-old.

The Nou Camp outcast had made just five starts in all competitions this season, with both Ronald Koeman and Xavi preferring the Brazilian as an option off the bench.

Coutinho has now been offered a career lifeline at Villa Park though, and will be coached by Gerrard, with whom he shared the pitch between 2013-15 at Anfield.

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The former Inter Milan playmaker has joined on an initial six-month loan deal, with an option to buy.

It’s thought that Villa will pay around 65% of the Brazilian’s salary, allowing Barcelona to get one step closer to registering new signing Ferran Torres.

Gerrard was full of praise for Coutinho earlier this week, failing to rule themselves out of the race for the player.

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“I do appreciate that his name is out there and that he’s linked to Aston Villa, but there are also five other clubs in the Premier League and others across Europe who are linked with him,” Gerrard said.

“I can understand that because you’re talking about a world-class individual and player. He’s a wonderful footballer.

“To share a pitch with Coutinho was a great experience because he was on a level that few footballers are on.

“His imagination, his creation, and also some of the highlight reels are incredible. His name speaks for himself. But I can’t say any more than that.”

Arsenal and Newcastle were both strongly linked with Coutinho, but will now be forced to turn their attentions elsewhere.

The mega-rich Toon have seemingly prioritised strengthening their defence, with England full-back Kieran Tripper becoming their first signing of the month.

Meanwhile, Arsenal are on the hunt for a new striker to replace Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Dusan Vlahovic and Alexander Isak have been frequently mentioned.

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