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SPORTS UPDATE

Arsenal set to hijack Aston Villa’s move for Coutinho

Aston Villa may have the option to sign Phillipe Coutinho, but they could face competition from another side of the Premier League.

The Brazilian has been in good form since he was loaned out to Steven Gerrard’s side in January, scoring four goals and providing three assists.

Villa reportedly has a €40 million option to take the 29-year-old permanently at the end of the season.

Spanish publication Sport have reported that Arsenal have ‘expressed interest’ in buying Coutinho during the summer transfer window.

Gerrard has made it no secret that he would like the club to sign his former Liverpool team-mate at the end of the season.

Arsenal’s hopes of hijacking the deal, however, depend on Villa being able to pay his full salary and compensation at the end of his lease.

Villa is currently paying him £125,000 in wages a week, which is a reduction of the £480,000 he receives in Barcelona.

Barcelona, ​​who signed Coutinho to a club record £142 million in 2018, will not be lower than the option price they imposed on Villa to sign him.

While Gerrard Coutinho would like to sign, he said the final decision will rest with the club’s owners.

He said: ‘Phil was successful at Barcelona, ​​but he also had difficult periods. He got on stage where he needed a change of scenery and another movie.

“We want to be that movie for him because if we want to get to where we want to be, we have to build it around talents like Phil, because at his best he is a high-level player.

“All good teams have game changers that really worry the opponent before a ball is kicked. Phil has that status and he gives confidence to his teammates.

“Our strikers Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings want him next to them because he performs on the big stage. I have no control over transfer fees or wages

‘All I can do is give my opinion to (Sporting Director) Johan Lange, (CEO) Christian Purslow and the owners. They watch the matches and will make the final decision. Phil has shown so far what he is capable of.”

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