Aston Villa have opened talks with Barcelona over a deal to sign Philippe Coutinho on loan for the remainder of the season.
Coutinho remains on the fringes of the Barcelona squad and is understood to have accepted that he needs to leave the club to boost his chances of making the Brazil squad for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
A loan exit is on the cards and initial reports tipped Arsenal to compete with Everton and Tottenham for his services, but Cope state that Aston Villa are now pushing to win the race for Coutinho's signature.
That interest has stepped up quickly and Villa are now in negotiations with a view to bringing Coutinho to Villa Park on a six-month loan deal, where he would reunite with former Liverpool team-mate Steven Gerrard.
Villa are still striving to replace the creativity lost by Jack Grealish's move to Manchester City during the summer. Emi Buendia has done a solid job, leading the team with three assists this season, but Gerrard is keen to find a greater source of goals in the January window.
Gerrard knows Coutinho well and appears keen to give him the chance to reinvent his career, as well as link up with Brazil team-mate Douglas Luiz.
Negotiations are by no means close, with Coutinho's high wages ensuring this won't be an easy deal to pull off, but everyone involved is keen to get a deal done.
Barcelona hope to offload Coutinho as soon as possible to make room in the squad for new signing Ferran Torres, who is still waiting to be registered following his £55m move from Manchester City.
Source : 90min