After being allowed to join Aston Villa on loan until the end of the season, Barcelona attacker Philippe Coutinho has wasted no time in recapturing some of his best form.
Although the talented Brazilian has featured in just 10 matches, in all competitions, for Steven Gerrard’s Villians, he has already directly contributed to an impressive seven goals.
Clearly one of the side’s most influential attackers, it is no surprise to see Gerrard linked with making the former Liverpool winger’s move permanent.
However, if the Midlands side is to sign Coutinho on a permanent basis in a potential deal that is understood to include a £33m (€40m) buy option, they’ll need to fend off interest from rivals Arsenal, who are also strong admirers, according to Mundo Deportivo.
So impressed with the South American that Mikel Arteta and Edu are believed to have already added Coutinho to their summer shortlist.
Discussing the possibility of signing Coutinho with reporters earlier this year, manager Arteta, as quoted by Express, said: “One of [the danger men]. Obviously, the team creates a lot of things when he’s on the ball and he’s in dangerous areas.
“He has contributed a lot in the attacking phase so obviously it’s something that we have to bear in mind.”
When why he thinks Coutinho performs better in the Premier League than anywhere else, Arteta added: “His ability to create goals, to create chances and to unlock spaces when they don’t exist. That’s the quality that he had when he was at Liverpool.”
Arsenal is understood to have contacted Coutinho’s representatives ahead of a potential summer deal that could see the Brazilian playmaker prioritise playing for a club in the Champions League – a position Arsenal is likely to find themselves in come the end of the season.
Not only that, but Arsenal will also be on the lookout for a new big-name attacking signing this summer after allowing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to join Barcelona in January for free.
The Gunners’ pursuit would also be intensified if Alexandre Lacazette fails to sign a new contract with the Frenchman’s current one set to expire in a couple of months.