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Steven Gerrard confident Philippe Coutinho can 'fall back in love' with football at Aston Villa

Steven Gerrard is confident Philippe Coutinho can fall back in love with football at Villa after dismissing the “keyboard warrior” critics of the playmaker’s time with Barcelona.

Philippe Coutinho (Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images).
Philippe Coutinho (Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images).

Coutinho this week arrived from the Catalan giants on an initial loan with the option of a permanent £33million deal this summer.

The Brazil international is viewed by many in Barcelona as an expensive failure having moved there from Liverpool for £142m four years ago.

But Gerrard, who played alongside Coutinho for the Reds, insisted that is not his concern. He said: “I take zero notice of what people are saying in Barcelona. Why would I analyse what people are saying there? It’s not important.

“What is important is we’ve signed a wonderful footballer. The opportunity came up to bring someone in who’s won two leagues in Barcelona, many cups for Barcelona, went on loan to Bayern Munich and won the European Cup, and someone who I knew ever so well from his Liverpool days as well.

“It makes no sense for me to listen to keyboard warriors in Barcelona. I know the player, I know the boy and I’m confident we can get him moving.

“He’s a fantastic talent. He needs to smile and enjoy his football, feel the confidence, support and love and I’ve got no doubt that we’ll see the real Philippe Coutinho.”

Coutinho has started only five matches this season and is expected to be on the bench when Villa host Manchester United this evening.

Gerrard admitted the 29-year-old might have lost some of his love for the game during a frustrating time on the continent.

He said: “I think Philippe would say that himself and that’s probably the reason why we’ve had the opportunity to bring him here.

“You can see clearly that he’s a player that needs to feel loved and supported, like the majority of footballers. I was the same, you want people to have confidence and belief in you.

“It’s mine and the staff’s job, his new team-mates and the supporters, to get him feeling good about himself. If you get a happy Philippe Coutinho who’s enjoying his football, who is in a physical place in terms of repeating getting training and game-time, the talent doesn’t leave you.

“Quality doesn’t leave you, it’s about putting everything else around that and that’s what our job is, to put everything around it.”

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