Barcelona have reportedly handed Aston Villa a boost in their pursuit of a permanent transfer for midfielder Philippe Coutinho. The former Liverpool star has enjoyed a successful start to life under Steven Gerrard since joining on loan.
The 29-year-old has scored twice and provided a further two assists in his four appearances for the Midlands outfit.
He scored just minutes into his debut after coming on as a substitute against Manchester United in January.
Villa are understood to have a £40million option to buy the playmaker in the summer transfer window.
However, Spanish outlet Sport claim sources at Barca feel Villa could make the deal permanent for a slightly lower fee.
Barca believe Villa are unlikely to want to pay £40m and could agree to decrease the price tag in order to get the Brazilian off their wage bill despite the clause in his loan deal.
Coutinho enjoying his Villa stay and being keen to remain at the club would also work in their favour.
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The 20-year-old midfielder scored twice in the draw against Leeds and Gerrard has tipped him to play for England.
The Liverpool legend continued: “It won’t be too long before the whole country is watching him.
“I know the level of the England players and he is right up there let me tell you. It is only a matter of time in my opinion.
“He is getting stronger and better every game. People are going to be watching.”
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