Coutinho was ‘never in Xavi’s plans at Barcelona’ and couldn’t prove his worth

Brazilian legend Rivaldo believes Philippe Coutinho’s departure from Barcelona was destined ever since Xavi joined up with the club as manager in November.

Coutinho recently announced his move to Aston Villa on loan from the Catalan giants, with an option-to-buy clause of £33.4million attached to the deal which can be met upon the end of the season.

Ever since the playmaker moved to Barcelona from Liverpool in 2017 for £145million, he's been unable to rekindle the form he had in Merseyside.

Coutinho, who spent the 2019-20 season on loan at Bayern Munich, eventually found himself down on the pecking order.

And 2002 World Cup winner Rivaldo has said that the attacker’s time was up as soon as Xavi returned to the side.

Rivaldo said via Betfair: “Philippe Coutinho looked to be definitely out of Barcelona's plans after Xavi's arrival, and if some months ago I was still encouraging and hoping that he could finally prove his value at the club, that time has now passed, with the confirmation of his loan deal to Aston Villa.

“He wasn't lucky at Barcelona and his return to the Premier League could be crucial for him, especially in a World Cup year.

The 49-year-old continued: “His quality is undeniable and if he recovers his confidence he could still get a place in the Brazil World Cup squad as Tite likes him and will always keep an eye on him.

“So, this move to Aston Villa – where he will team up with his former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard – is great news that might reopen the doors in a league in which he played the best football of his career.

“It's sad that it didn't work out for Coutinho at Barcelona but his move to Villa will now suit both parties.”

Do you think Coutinho will shine for Aston Villa? Tell us in the comments section.

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Villa will pay about 65% of Coutinho’s salary, while the move sees him reunite with Steven Gerrard, a former Liverpool teammate who played alongside him in the Reds first-team from 2013-15.

Gerrard said on Thursday said: “He’s won two league titles at Barcelona, two Copa del Reys. If you go and have a look at his Wiki page you’ll see a serial winner wherever he goes. He’s won 63 caps for Brazil, played for Barcelona and was incredible at Liverpool.

“So I can understand why he’s linked to a lot of football clubs. I can understand why a lot of supporters up and down the country are speaking about him. I don’t think you get a nickname of ‘The Magician’ if you’re not a special footballer.”

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