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Gerrard praises impact of ‘humble’ Coutinho at Villa

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Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard on Friday praised “humble” Brazil forward Philippe Coutinho, who has made an instant impact on his return to the Premier League.

The Barcelona loanee has scored two goals in three appearances since moving to Villa Park in last month’s transfer window.

He excelled with a goal and two assists in Wednesday’s thrilling 3-3 draw with Leeds before being forced off with cramp but will be fit for Sunday’s trip to Newcastle.

“He was desperate to come back to the Premier League and we’ve given him everything he needs to go out there and perform,” said Gerrard, who was a teammate of Coutinho’s in his playing days at Liverpool.

“For me, the good thing about Phil is he’s so humble, so level-headed. He’s so grounded that you wouldn’t think you were dealing with a world-class star if you spoke to him day-to-day. He’s just a great human being.

“His vision is a major strength to him as a player. He’s lovely on the eye to watch, his technical ability is high-level. I don’t think I have to go on about Phil Coutinho the player, you just have to watch and admire the class with which he goes about it.”

Gerrard said the club were still working on the Brazil forward’s fitness.

“He can get fitter and stronger and he will do with more training and games,” said the Villa boss, whose side are 11th in the Premier League.

“Then it was about getting him enjoying his football again, being around the boys, smiling and looking forward to playing. You can see in his performance that he feels this is his stage again.”

Villa signed Coutinho on loan for the rest of the season and have the option to buy him from Barcelona at the end of the campaign.

The 29-year-old joined Barcelona from Liverpool in 2018 but he struggled at the Nou Camp and spent the 2019/20 season on loan at Bayern Munich, where he won the Champions League.

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