Steven Gerrard backs Philippe Coutinho to find his form again before the season is out… with Aston Villa pondering whether it is worthwhile to make his signing from Barcelona permanent
- The Brazilian’s form has fallen off a cliff slightly in recent weeks
- Aston Villa have fallen down the table after a dreadful run of results
- Steven Gerrard backed his former teammate to find his touch again this season
- Leicester face Roma in the week bidding to make their first European final
Steven Gerrard backed Philippe Coutinho to regain top form at Aston Villa as the club consider whether to turn his loan from Barcelona into a permanent transfer.
The former Liverpool star, a team-mate of Gerrard at Anfield, has registered four goals and three assists in 13 games since arriving at Villa Park in January, but his form has dipped in recent weeks.
Coutinho would cost about £30million and would be comfortably Villa’s top earner — a significant financial outlay for a player who turns 30 on June 12.
Philippe Coutinho has seen his form drop off slightly in recent weeks – in line with his side’s overall performances
Gerrard will be supported again in the summer transfer market as he tries to realise the dream of billionaire owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens to turn Villa into one of the country’s top clubs again. It is clear he still backs Coutinho to the hilt.
‘Phil will be fine,’ said Gerrard. ‘We can’t expect Phil to be man of the match, creator and goalscorer every time he plays. We’ll continue to work with him and I’m sure it’ll only be a matter of time.
‘I don’t have to defend Philippe Coutinho. He defends himself with the level that he’s at. We’re playing against two teams now (Norwich and Burnley) where we should be able to create chances.
Philippe Coutinho has struggled creatively for Aston Villa since his blistering start
Steven Gerrard has backed his former teammate to re-find his form this campaign
‘So with players like Emiliano Buendia, Phil, Leon Bailey, Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings, we’ve got enough in the building to get some positive results.’
After this drab draw, Leicester’s focus is firmly on the Europa Conference League semi-final, one of their biggest games of modern times. If the Foxes overcome Jose Mourinho’s Roma over two legs — with the first at the King Power Stadium on Thursday — they will reach their first European final.
Jamie Vardy returned from injury as a second-half substitute to make only his third appearance of 2022. Manager Brendan Rodgers said: ‘We’d love to have European football again next season and this competition gives us that opportunity.’
Leicester (4-3-3): Schmeichel 7; Justin 6, Fofana 5.5, Soyuncu 6, Castagne 6.5; Tielemans 6 (Perez 86min), Mendy 6.5, Dewsbury-Hall 7; Maddison 6.5, Daka 6 (Vardy 71, 6), Lookman 6 (Barnes 80). Booked: Mendy, Dewsbury-Hall, Maddison. Manager: Brendan Rodgers 6.5.
Aston Villa (4-3-3): Martinez 6; Cash 7, KONSA 8, Mings 7.5, Young 6.5; McGinn 7.5, Douglas Luiz 6.5 (Iroegbunam 76), Ramsey 6 (Nakamba 90); Bailey 6, Watkins 7, Coutinho 5.5 (Buendia 79). Booked: Douglas Luiz, Bailey. Manager: Steven Gerrard 6.5.
Referee: Andy Madley 6. Attendance: 32,185.
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