- Brazilian playmaker lacking spark
- Return to roots being speculated on
- Expected to remain in Europe for now
WHAT HAPPENED? The 30-year-old playmaker, who was left out of his country’s squad for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, has struggled for form and fitness since leaving Liverpool for Barcelona in the winter transfer window of 2018. A return to England was made, initially on loan, in January 2022, but a spark is proving difficult to rekindle and there has been talk of Coutinho returning to South America now that another recruitment market has opened for business.
WHAT THEY SAID: Villa team-mate Luiz cannot see Coutinho returning to his roots any time soon, with there a desire on his part to compete at the highest level before one day heading back to where it all began at Vasco da Gama. Luiz has told ESPN Brasil: “Really, he is very happy. We always talk, we always joke about going back to Vasco together. And I hope that one day we can play together there, but he’s very happy here. Our focus is here for the moment. He’s, I think, 30 now, and a player can play at a high level until he’s 35. So I don’t think he’s in that rush to go to Brazil now. And he went there and put it on social networks because, like it or not, the rumours will happen, even more so when the window is open, it’s the club’s priorities in Brazil. And seeing that he is not playing here, they think he really wants to leave and wants to go to another club. But he’s very happy here.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Coutinho has taken in 34 appearances for Villa, scoring five goals, but he has been restricted to just six Premier League starts in the current campaign and has seen former Liverpool team-mate Steven Gerrard replaced in the dugout at Villa Park by ex-Arsenal manager Unai Emery.
IN THREE PHOTOS:Getty Images
WHAT NEXT? Villa will be back in action on Wednesday when taking in a derby date with West Midlands rivals Wolves, before then playing host to League Two side Stevenage in the FA Cup third round on Sunday.