Express & Star

Philippe Coutinho closing in on Qatar switch

Villa playmaker Philippe Coutinho is close to sealing a loan move to Al Duhail which would see the Qatari club pay his £125,000-a-week salary in full.

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The 31-year-old Brazilian is expected to complete the switch in the next few days, with the Qatari transfer window remaining open until September 18.

Villa have been open to selling Coutinho, one of the biggest earners in their squad who has struggled for form and fitness since joining in a £17.2million transfer from Barcelona in May last year. A loan move which takes his wages off the club’s books is now considered the next best option.

Coutinho’s efforts to make an impression under Unai Emery have been hampered by a series of hamstring injuries, the most recent of which he suffered in last month’s 4-0 Premier League win over Everton, just his second appearance since February.