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Newcastle enter €40m transfer race for Barcelona outcast Coutinho

Newcastle have entered the race to sign Barcelona outcast Philippe Coutinho, GOAL can confirm.

Coutinho has been on Barca's books for the last four years, having initially completed a big-money move to Camp Nou from Liverpool in January 2018.

The Brazilian has been unable to live up to his €166 million (£142m/$175m) price tag, however, and now finds himself back in the Premier League on loan at Aston Villa.

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Newcastle join race for Coutinho

Coutinho still has a year left on his contract at Barca, but he has already accepted he does not have a future at the club and wants to secure a permanent return to the Premier League.

Villa have the option to buy him outright for €40m (£34m/$42m) this summer, but have not yet confirmed whether they will trigger that clause in his loan deal, and Newcastle are now waiting in the wings to pounce.

GOAL has learned that the Magpies are willing to pay the same fee for Coutinho and have already made direct contact with Barca over a potential transfer ahead of the summer window.

The 29-year-old is eager to stay in England to boost his chances of making Brazil's 2022 World Cup squad, but Newcastle are aware that Villa still have first refusal on the player at this moment in time.

What has Gerrard said about Coutinho?

Villa boss Gerrard, who played alongside Coutinho at Liverpool between 2013 and 2015, confirmed that he wants the midfielder to stay in the West Midlands back in March.

"I think you all know what my decision would be," he said. "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."

Coutinho was left out of Gerrard's starting XI for Villa's 3-1 win over Burnley last time out, having failed to record a single goal contribution in his previous seven appearances, with Emiliano Buendia taking his place.

The head coach insists that a man who has a total of four goals and three assists to his name since joining Villa in January is still in his long-term plans, though, as he told reporters after the game: "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."

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