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Sunday 13 February 2022 15:03, UK
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In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports, Philippe Coutinho tells Laura Woods how he missed the Premier League and how Steven Gerrard was a big factor in his move to Aston Villa.
The forward joined the Midlands club in January on loan from Barcelona, returning to the Premier League four years after a £142m move from Liverpool.
Coutinho’s spell in Spain did not quite work out, but a loan to Bayern Munich in the 2019/20 season saw the Brazil international lift the Champions League trophy, beating Barca on the way to the final.
But Coutinho is now back in England – playing under his former Liverpool team-mate Gerrard – and says he has missed playing in the Premier League.
Speaking to Woods ahead of Aston Villa’s trip to Newcastle on Super Sunday, live on Sky Sports, Coutinho said: “I really like it here. I missed the Premier League and the people here. They treated me really well and I missed this. It’s good to be back here.
4 – Philippe Coutinho has had a hand in four goals in three Premier League matches for Aston Villa (2 goals & 2 assists in 174 mins), twice as many as he’d registered for Barcelona in 12 LaLiga games this season (2 goals in 500 mins). Revitalised. pic.twitter.com/47KfCQCe5R
“The games here are so intensive so I like that type of game. I have to adapt again, I’m trying my best in training and I’m getting better from the intensity point of view. I think that’s the difference that I really like.
“In Spain, it is a different type of game. In Barcelona, normally you would have more time with the ball, more control and those are the different things. I don’t want to live in the past, I’m here at a great club and I want to give my best and enjoy my football here.
“The atmosphere in the stadium [Villa Park] is incredible, it’s amazing. I really missed the games here in the Premier League because the atmospheres in the stadiums are really intense here.
“The people here, when I meet them in the street, they’re really nice and respectful. I really missed this. The weather I didn’t miss, it’s a bit cold, but the football here, with the club and the people are really nice.”
Aston Villa manager Gerrard and Coutinho spent five years playing together in the red of Liverpool, going close to winning the Premier League title in the 2013/14 season.
The former England international had a huge influence in bringing Coutinho to Villa and he hopes to repay the confidence Gerrard has shown in him.
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“We spoke a lot before I came,” he said. “He spoke about the club, the ambitions here, the fans, his ambitions and for sure it was what I wanted. I decided very quickly. I’m here now and I’m very happy at the moment.
“[Gerrard’s ambitions are] to give our best. We have a great squad we have great players and we know we can be in a better position than we are now, that’s what we are working for. His ambition is to go up, day by day, game by game.
“We want to be in the first position, for now we know it’s a little bit long, but our ambition is always to be the best we can be.
“It’s always nice when you have someone who believes in you and, of course, I believe in me. I work hard every day, but it was really nice what we spoke. I want to give the best to repay that confidence on the pitch.”
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But could Gerrard still do a job on the pitch?
With his trademark wide smile, Coutinho replied: “Yes, for sure! Sometimes when we miss one player in training, he’s there and you can see he hasn’t lost anything. He could still play. He was always an idol for me and I’m happy to work again with him.”
Coutinho truly announced his arrival at Villa Park during a thrilling midweek 3-3 draw with Leeds. Coutinho combined with Jacob Ramsey – who Gerrard recently tipped for an England call-up – for all three goals and predicts a big future for the 20-year-old.
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“He’s a top player,” Coutinho added. “He’s very young and he’s playing really well. I really enjoy playing with him and with all my team-mates. If I can help him, I will try to do my best. For sure, he has a great future.
“We didn’t speak too much yet. I just arrived here, my English has to improve but on the pitch, I’m trying to connect with all my team-mates and I hope I can help my team here.
“In the last game, we will feel like we could’ve won at the end, but I think the team played well. We gave everything, we enjoyed the game so we want to give the best for our fans and of course we work hard for that.”
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