Philippe Coutinho will go up “another level” after agreeing a permanent transfer from Barcelona to Aston Villa, manager Steven Gerrard has said.
Villa announced on Thursday that Coutinho will complete a £17million (€20m) move at the end of the season, having impressed in his half-season loan spell at the Premier League club.
The Brazil international has created the most chances among Villa players (24) since scoring and assisting on his debut against Manchester United on January 15.
Coutinho has also crafted the most ‘big chances’ – from which Opta would expect a player to score – in that period (five) to go along with his four goals and three assists.
Villa boss Gerrard expressed his delight at securing Coutinho’s signature and suggested the 29-year-old will develop in the knowledge he has the full backing of Villa Park.
Philippe Coutinho is here to stay. pic.twitter.com/FnIjvz3rwz
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) May 12, 2022
Asked why he thought Coutinho made the swap from Barcelona to Birmingham, Gerrard joked with reporters: “Probably my banter and my company to be honest!”
He added: “I was aware a little bit before it was announced, and I think it’s fantastic for everyone connected with the club.
“You’ve seen the reaction from the supporters, it’s very positive, they’ve seen him over the last five or six months play ever so well.
“He’s still got loads left in him, in our opinion. To have him here full time and settled, I think he’ll come again and go up another level because of that feeling of knowing where he’s going to be playing for the next four years.
“I think he is a player that needs to feel wanted, he needs to feel support. Everyone at Villa is playing their part… the owners especially have made him feel really special.
“He feels really happy here, and it’s fantastic that he wants to be part of this journey.
“I think you can’t underestimate football happiness. In any walk of life, in any job, you’ve got to get out of bed with a purpose and with a drive and energy to enjoy your role. In football terms, that is to feel support from your team-mates, from your staff, but also from your supporters.
“If you get out of bed every morning and you’re playing for an ambitious club where there’s a journey and everyone is pushing to move it forward and improve it, and you’re a big part of that and you’re made to feel welcome and people want to build around you, that’s very important in Phil’s situation.”