Express & Star

John McGinn: Philippe Coutinho is an Aston Villa role model

Skipper John McGinn has saluted Philippe Coutinho as a role model to Villa’s younger players after the playmaker ended his goal drought.

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Aston Villa's Philippe Coutinho

Coutinho’s strike in last weekend’s 4-2 defeat to Arsenal was his first since the final day of last season, with the Brazil international – who initially joined on loan from Barcelona in January 2022 – having struggled since making a £17.2million permanent switch.

But McGinn explained how the 30-year-old's humility and focus in the face of considerable criticism is an example for others to follow.

“All the young players at the club should take everything from Phil,” he said. “He’s so humble, works hard, doesn’t complain and just gets on with trying to get back in the team.

“It’s been the same for me. I’ve been out of the team so just get your head down, work hard and when you get your opportunity you take it.”

Coutinho, signed by Barcelona from Liverpool for £142m in 2018, made a big impression by scoring four times in his first eight loan appearances for Villa last term.

But this season has been a struggle, with injury also ending any slim chance of making Brazil’s World Cup squad.

The start against Arsenal was his first in the Premier League since October 10 and McGinn continued: “I’m delighted for him. He’s had a lot of criticism but that comes with being a world class player.

“In training in the past few weeks and when he came on against Manchester City, he’s earned his start and has been doing really well.

“It was a phenomenal finish. He’s been through a lot in the last few months so I hope he’s starting to find a bit of form. Hopefully there is more to come.”