Douglas Luiz on Coutinho after Villa ace dismissed exit talk

Douglas Luiz has insisted that Aston Villa teammate Philippe Coutinho is happy at the club after he recently dismissed speculation linking him with an exit.

As per his Instagram post last week, Coutinho dismissed reports from his homeland suggesting that he wanted to leave Villa and was eyeing a return to Brazil, with talks said to be underway for a switch to happen potentially as early as January.

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The rumours were understandable to an extent given his struggles with form this season and the departure of former boss Steven Gerrard in November, given he was instrumental in bringing Coutinho to Villa after previously working together at Liverpool.

The 30-year-old Brazilian playmaker is still without a goal or assist in 15 appearances so far this campaign, but having recovered from an injury over the World Cup break which resulted in him making his comeback off the bench in the last two games, it’s hoped that he can now prove his quality and worth to Unai Emery.

It’s likely that the Villa boss will give him an opportunity to do just that and will take a good look at whether or not he fits into his plans moving forward before making any decisions, and Luiz has now moved to also dismiss talk of a transfer back to Brazil for his compatriot in the near future.

“He [Coutinho] is really happy, we always talk, joke a lot about going back to Vasco together,” he told ESPN Brazil. “I hope that one day we can play together there, but he is very happy here, our focus is here at the moment. He’s 30 now and a player can play at a high level until he’s 35, so I don’t think he’s in that rush to go to Brazil right now.

“He went there and put it on social networks, because, like it or not, the rumours are going to happen, even more so with the window open. There is also the priority of the club in Brazil, which, seeing that he is not playing here, thinks that he really wants to leave and go somewhere else. But, he is happy here, that’s why, when I scored the goal, I went to give him a hug.”

After registering four minutes against Liverpool and then 12 minutes against Tottenham, Coutinho is gradually building up his match fitness and will hope that he can continue to play a bigger role as his condition improves.

Further, with Villa in FA Cup action this weekend at home against Stevenage, Emery may well use that game as an opportunity to rotate and give others a chance, and the Brazilian international will certainly be pushing for a starting berth.

It was great to see Coutinho commit his future and focus to Villa last week, but ultimately he must still show his quality this season in order to convince Emery to keep him in his longer-term plans, as the Villa boss will of course want to bring in his own players to stamp his mark on the squad too.