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Soccer: Barcelona's Philippe Coutinho joins Aston Villa on loan

Soccer: Barcelona's Philippe Coutinho joins Aston Villa on loan
FC Barcelona's Philippe Coutinho, who joined Aston Villa on loan Friday, is expected to arrive this weekend in Birmingham, England. Photo by Alejandro Garcia/EPA-EFE

Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho will join Aston Villa on loan until the end of the 2021-22 season, Barcelona announced Friday.

The Spanish La Liga team said in a news release that the agreement is subject to a physical and work permit acquisition. Aston Villa also received an option to make the transfer permanent. The English Premier League club will pay a portion of Coutinho's salary.

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Coutinho, 29, scored 26 goals in 106 appearances for Barcelona. He spent the 2019-20 season on loan to Bayern Munich of Germany's Bundesliga.

The Brazilian is expected to travel this weekend to Aston Villa's headquarters in Birmingham, England. Aston Villa lost three of its last four games and sits in 13th place in the Premier League standings.

Coutinho started his senior career in 2008 at Inter Milan of Italy's Serie A. He played for Liverpool of the Premier League from 2013 to 2018, where he spent time as a teammate of current Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard.

Coutinho joined Barcelona in 2018. Gerrard retired in 2016 and was hired in November to coach Aston Villa.

Manchester United hosts Aston Villa in an FA Cup third-round match at 2:55 p.m. EST Monday at Old Trafford in Manchester, England. Aston Villa hosts Manchester United in a Premier League match at 12:30 p.m. EST Jan. 15 at Villa Park.

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The 2021-22 Premier League season ends May 23.

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