Aston Villa could take familiar transfer steps to end Philippe Coutinho's miserable spell

Philippe Coutinho of Aston Villa
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

Aston Villa forward Philippe Coutinho might've played his last match for the club as Villa reportedly weigh up whether or not to prematurely part ways with the Brazilian. Coutinho has spent this past season out on loan in Qatar with Al Duhail, after Unai Emery deemed that he wouldn't be a part of his plans in the Lions' first-team set-up.

Upon Coutinho's arrival, initially on loan, there was plenty of understandable excitement. For many, it was a pointer to Villa's ambitions and the direction they were heading under Steven Gerrard. Coutinho made the desired impact, too, with goals against Manchester United, Leeds United and Southampton, but his fruitful form in front of goal soon fizzled out.

Nevertheless, Villa cashed in on their opportunity to purchase Coutinho outright from Barcelona and they gave him a four-year contract, but his only goal as a permanent Villa player came in last season's 4-2 defeat at home to Arsenal, long after his former Liverpool teammate Gerrard had been sacked. After conducting a squad audit last summer, Emery decided to allow him to leave.

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Coutinho, though, is due to report for duty in this coming pre-season later in the summer, as normal; he still has two of those four years remaining on his deal, but reports have emerged that suggest that owners NSWE could look to terminate his contract and bring to an early end Coutinho's otherwise rather miserable spell with the club.

There have been suggestions that Coutinho's former club Vasco da Gama - who NSWE are said to be considering entering into a partnership with as they seek to build up their V Sports portfolio - are interested in bringing Coutinho back to Brazil this summer. Their season has already kicked off, but they like the idea of adding Coutinho - although it would involve the player taking a substantial cut in his wages.

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Coutinho, who turns 32 this summer, has made only two substitute appearances for Villa this term - from the bench in the opening day defeat at Newcastle United and then in the hammering of Everton at Villa Park - before he left for Qatar, where he has played regularly for Al Duhail. Coutinho has contributed towards nine goals in 21 appearances.

Villa have a recent track record of severing ties with players before their contracts expire; in 2019, after securing promotion, they cancelled the contract of Ross McCormack, while only last winter they parted with Bertrand Traore in order to allow him to complete a free transfer to Villarreal.

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