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Former Liverpool ace Philippe Coutinho in advanced talks to return to former club

Mohammed Waad Albayati (R) of Al-Sadd SC and Philippe Coutinho of Al-Duhail SC are battling for the ball during the Amir Cup Semi-final match between Al-Duhail SC and Al-Sadd SC at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Doha, Qatar, on May 18, 2024.
-Credit: (Image: Noushad Thekkayil/NurPhoto via Getty Images)


Former Liverpool player Philippe Coutinho is set to be on the move again this summer. With his loan at Qatari side Al-Duhail coming to an end, he will return to parent club Aston Villa, but it is not expected to be a lengthy stay.

Arriving in the Midlands during Steven Gerrard's brief stint as Aston Villa manager, Coutinho started brightly, but quickly succumbed to form and fitness struggles. It's been a similar story for him everywhere since leaving Liverpool for Barcelona — and he could now return to one of his former teams in a bid to get back on track.

Turning 32 next month, the contract Coutinho signed at Barcelona would only have expired last summer. But since his ill-fated spell at the Nou Camp, he has been loaned to Bayern Munich, sold to Aston Villa and then shipped out to Qatar. His next step could see him go back to Brazil, rejoining Vasco da Gama.

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Journalist César Luis Merlo has revealed that Vasco is making progress on a deal. Coutinho is thought to 'welcome' a return to the club he last represented almost 15 years ago, and talks with Aston Villa are ongoing. It's believed that those have reached an advanced stage.

At this point, it's unclear whether Vasco would be seeking a loan or a permanent transfer for Coutinho. It's previously been reported that Aston Villa would want as much as $10.1m (£8m/€9.3m) for the former Liverpool man, although that figure seems deeply optimistic.

Coutinho remains under contract at Aston Villa until 2026. Even another loan would likely be a boost for Unai Emery's side, with the playmaker a significant presence on the club's wage bill.

Liverpool.com says: There have been plenty of false dawns for Coutinho since he left Liverpool and became the world's third most expensive football transfer, a record that remains in place to this day. But a move back to Vasco da Gama does feel like it would give him a chance to flourish once again.

Unlike the Aston Villa move, which felt like a last shot at salvaging an elite-level career, returning to Brazil would see Coutinho embracing his autumn years. Free of the pressure which has burdened him since leaving Anfield, he could hopefully enjoy his football again — when he was doing that at Liverpool, he played with the kind of freedom that made him an utter delight to watch.

Coutinho will always be a cautionary tale at Liverpool. But enough time has passed that the vast majority at Anfield would wish him well with his next chapter.