Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard has labelled Philippe Coutinho a “special footballer” as his side continue to draw links with the Barcelona midfielder.
The 29-year-old has been the subject of transfer interest from the Premier League in the early stages of this month’s winter window, and Aston Villa are reportedly a front-runner for his signature.
The Brazilian has continued to play a bit-part role for Barca this campaign, starting just five La Liga matches and featuring seven time from the bench, with it now looking increasingly likely that he will leave the Camp Nou this month.
Gerrard, a former teammate of Coutinho at Liverpool, whom Barca signed him from in 2018 for £105m, has been talking up the playmaker, labelling him a “special footballer”, though he refused to comment on whether a possible transfer was in the pipeline.
“Sixty-three caps for Brazil, a serial winner, was incredible at Liverpool, so I can understand why he’s linked to a lot of football clubs,” said Gerrard.
“I can understand why a lot of supporters up and down the country are speaking about him. I don’t think you get a nickname as a magician if you’re not a special footballer, so he’s someone I have an incredible amount of respect for.
“But I don’t want to add to any speculation, because he belongs to Barcelona.”
Despite Gerrard’s reluctance to give further insight on any potential deal between Barca and Villa, he did add that Coutinho is someone he considers a “friend” following their time together at Anfield, and continued to stress the importance of his trophy cabinet when rating him.
He continued: “He won two league titles and two Copa del Reys with Barcelona.
“I think if you go and have a look at his Wikipedia page I think you’ll see a serial winner wherever he’s been.
“I’ve got nothing but positive things to say about the player, he’s a friend of mine, so if I’m asked the questions I can speak for as long as you want.”