Jordan Henderson joked that he is ready to put a call in to Steven Gerrard as Liverpool eye a favour from Aston Villa on the final day of the Premier League season.

After coming from behind to beat Southampton 2-1 in their penultimate fixture of the campaign, Jurgen Klopp's side remain in with a shout of clinching the title on Sunday.

But, for that to happen, they must first win their Anfield clash with Wolves and then hope that Manchester City drop points at home to Villa.

Pep Guardiola's men came out on top in a similarly tight race in 2018-19, and Henderson says he is ready to call on his former Anfield teammate Steven Gerrard - now the manager of Villa - as he looks for a different outcome.

He told Sky Sports: "It's hard. We've had this before when they played Brighton [and went 1-0 down] and the crowd cheer and you know what's going on and it's hard to focus on the game. 

"Hopefully that experience, we've learned from it and we can just concentrate on the game and what we need to do. 

"Hopefully, Stevie and Villa can do us a favour at City. I might give him a call now, actually!"

That Liverpool have been able to take the title race to the last day owes much to the efforts of the heavily rotated team that clinched victory at St Mary's on Southampton.

Takumi Minamino was among nine alterations to the line-up, and scored just as he had done on his last Premier League start - a whopping 514 days ago.

That ability to come in from the cold and contribute pleased Henderson, who remarked: "I feel like we've done that really well all season.

"The lads who might not have played as much as they would have liked, they've got to come in and show what they're all about. 

"I felt as though all the lads did that tonight, took the opportunity, and in a Premier League season you need absolutely everyone."

James Milner echoed his captain's sentiments in urging Liverpool to simply focus on what they can control on the final day of the season.

However, he also insisted that Klopp's men have done themselves proud in pushing City so close regardless of Sunday's outcome.

He said: "Try and win our game, that's all we can do, and that's all we've been trying to do since we sort of had a reset in January. 

"We were so far behind and we went for it, had a mental reset, and since then we've really pushed. 

"They're an incredible team to go up against and, whatever happens this season, I think we've done ourselves proud. 

"But you're coming up against a top team like Manchester City so all we can do is try and win our games and try and keep the pressure on right until the end. 

"All we could do is take it to the last game."

Philippe Coutinho will go up "another level" after agreeing a permanent transfer from Barcelona to Aston Villa, manager Steven Gerrard has said.

Villa announced on Thursday that Coutinho will complete a £17million (€20m) move at the end of the season, having impressed in his half-season loan spell at the Premier League club.

The Brazil international has created the most chances among Villa players (24) since scoring and assisting on his debut against Manchester United on January 15.

Coutinho has also crafted the most 'big chances' – from which Opta would expect a player to score – in that period (five) to go along with his four goals and three assists.

Villa boss Gerrard expressed his delight at securing Coutinho's signature and suggested the 29-year-old will develop in the knowledge he has the full backing of Villa Park.

Asked why he thought Coutinho made the swap from Barcelona to Birmingham, Gerrard joked with reporters: "Probably my banter and my company to be honest!"

He added: "I was aware a little bit before it was announced, and I think it's fantastic for everyone connected with the club.

"You've seen the reaction from the supporters, it's very positive, they've seen him over the last five or six months play ever so well.

"He's still got loads left in him, in our opinion. To have him here full time and settled, I think he'll come again and go up another level because of that feeling of knowing where he's going to be playing for the next four years.

"I think he is a player that needs to feel wanted, he needs to feel support. Everyone at Villa is playing their part… the owners especially have made him feel really special.

"He feels really happy here, and it's fantastic that he wants to be part of this journey.

"I think you can't underestimate football happiness. In any walk of life, in any job, you've got to get out of bed with a purpose and with a drive and energy to enjoy your role. In football terms, that is to feel support from your team-mates, from your staff, but also from your supporters.

"If you get out of bed every morning and you're playing for an ambitious club where there's a journey and everyone is pushing to move it forward and improve it, and you're a big part of that and you're made to feel welcome and people want to build around you, that's very important in Phil's situation."

Philippe Coutinho will complete a permanent £17million (€20m) move to Aston Villa from Barcelona at the end of the season, it has been confirmed.

The Brazil international has enjoyed a resurgent half-season loan spell at Villa Park since January and has signed a contract until June 2026 after being effectively frozen out of starting contention at Camp Nou.

The deal, which will see Barca paid 50 per cent of any future sale of the player, brings to a close an unhappy four-and-a-half year tenure with the Blaugrana, who originally signed him in 2018 from Liverpool for a club record nine-figure sum.

Despite success in La Liga in terms of trophies, winning two titles and two Copa del Reys, the playmaker struggled to slot in with the Catalan outfit and spent the 2019-20 season on loan with Bayern Munich, where he won a Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League treble, although the German giants declined to make the move permanent.

It has been his return to England under former Reds team-mate Steven Gerrard that has arguably seen him hit his best form since leaving Anfield, though.

Coutinho has played more than twice as many minutes with Villa than he did with Barca this season, and has notched four goals in 16 appearances for the Midlands club.

Gerrard said: "This is a brilliant signing for Aston Villa. Phil is a model professional and his impact on the group has been very clear since he joined in January. 

"With the way he conducts himself on and off the pitch, he's also a valuable role model for our younger players who can only benefit from his experience. 

"As we look to build towards next season, it is incredible to work at a club that executes its business so decisively and smoothly." 

Steven Gerrard wants Jon Moss's officiating in Aston Villa's 2-1 defeat to Liverpool to come under scrutiny and says he is pleased the referee is retiring.

The second-placed Reds moved level on points with Manchester City in the Premier League title with a victory at Villa Park on Tuesday.

Douglas Luiz gave Villa an early lead, but Joel Matip equalised three minutes later and Sadio Mane scored a second-half winner.

Villa manager Gerrard was not impressed with the performance of the experienced Moss, who did not brandish a single yellow card.

Moss will retire at the end of the season and Gerrard could be in hot water after stating that he is happy with the 51-year-old's decision to bring his career to an end. 

When informed Moss is about to retire, Gerrard said in a post-match news conference: "Is he? Good."

Asked about the performance of Moss on Tuesday, the former England midfielder replied: "No comment, I just hope that it’s looked at. That's all I say. I hope it's looked at.

"Have I gone to talk to Jon Moss? No. I just hope his performance is looked at. I don’t want to be sour, Liverpool scored two goals against us and we need to look at that and I don’t want to cover over any cracks."

Sadio Mane's second-half winner secured Liverpool a vital 2-1 victory at Aston Villa on Tuesday to keep the pressure on Manchester City in the Premier League title race.

After the 1-1 draw with Tottenham on Saturday, Liverpool's championship hopes looked bleak while they were being held to the same scoreline at Villa Park, but the Reds' superior quality ultimately came up trumps.

Much of the pre-match attention focused on how Liverpool legend and Villa manager Steven Gerrard could be the one to further derail his former side's quadruple bid, and Douglas Luiz's early opener suggested a shock could be on the cards.

But Joel Matip swiftly equalised, and from that point Liverpool were generally the greater threat, eventually completing the turnaround just past the hour thanks to Mane.

Liverpool's underwhelming start culminated in a defensive mix-up between Kostas Tsimikas and Matip allowing Douglas Luiz to test Alisson and then smash home the rebound.

But the Reds quickly levelled through Matip in the sixth minute, prodding into the empty net after Virgil van Dijk beat Emiliano Martinez to a loose ball in the Villa box.

While Liverpool struggled to establish any real control in a feisty first half, the better chances continued to go their way as Mane headed just wide and Naby Keita comically mishit an attempt from 10 yards with the goal at his mercy.

It was a tighter affair in the second half, though Liverpool's next clear-cut opportunity proved decisive.

Luis Diaz did well to pick out Mane from the left, and the Senegal forward brilliantly twisted his body to meet the cross with a header into the bottom-right corner, with Villa failing to hit back as Danny Ings had a goal disallowed for offside.

Jurgen Klopp is overseeing "the best Liverpool team there has been", according to club legend Steven Gerrard. 

Liverpool remain in the hunt for an unprecedented quadruple this season, though a 1-1 draw with Tottenham at the weekend saw them slip three points adrift of Premier League leaders Manchester City. 

Despite the Reds winning the European Cup and Champions League six times in their history, Gerrard believes the current crop is the best they have ever had. 

"Because of the way the game has changed – it's gone quicker, it's gone faster – I think you're probably watching the best Liverpool team there has been. That's due to the speed, mentality and intensity of this current group," said Gerrard. 

"But I say that without disrespecting previous Liverpool teams because I grew up watching them. The European Cup winners, serial league title winners – I grew up on all of that. I'm well aware they've previously had world-class players, managers and teams." 

Liverpool will have the chance to win the Champions League again when they take on Real Madrid in the final in Paris on May 28. 

But Gerrard's Aston Villa will hope to put another dent in Liverpool's lofty ambitions for the campaign when they meet in the Premier League on Tuesday. 

Villa won the corresponding fixture last season 7-2, but they have not won consecutive home league matches against the Reds since February 1998.

"We've got to make sure we're brave enough and show enough quality to hurt Liverpool," he said. 

"I'm never going to set a team up to just suffer for 90 minutes, but I don't want that to be gung-ho or careless. It has to be calculated. 

"At times we'll have to suffer but if we do that together and get through those situations, we believe with the form we're in, we'll have some interesting moments in the game. 

"That's what Tottenham did. They were organised, they were patient, and when their moments came, they did cause Liverpool some problems." 

The full extent of the latest injury to Aston Villa and Jamaica forward Leon Bailey is yet to be determined but the team’s head coach Steve Gerrard sympathizes with the player’s situation.

On Saturday, the 24-year-old hobbled from the field five minutes before half-time, having suffered what appeared to be an ankle injury.  The setback was the latest in an up and down season for the winger.

Previously, Bailey spent lengthy spells on the sideline having injured his thigh on two separate occasions.  Since moving to the club from Bundesliga outfit Bayer Leverkusen, the attacker has shown flashes of tremendous potential but struggled to stay fit.  Gerrard admits the situation has been frustrating for everyone.

"It’s an ankle issue. In terms of the extent and the damage, I’m sure he’ll be MRI scanned in the next 24 to 48 hours. I’m really disappointed and frustrated for him because he’s worked really hard to get back, he’s been training ever so well,” Gerrard said.

Bailey started only his second match, since returning from injury, against Leicester last weekend, the coach had promised to give the player an opportunity to play his way back into form.

"We wanted to give him another opportunity off the back of Leicester to really try and keep him in the rhythm. You see how he started the game he nearly scores with a fantastic effort and a top save from Tim Krul,” Gerrard said.

"Not too far after that he’s got to come off the pitch. He’s frustrated, we’re frustrated and I’m sure the supporters are as well.”

  

Aston Villa coach Steve Gerrard believes Jamaica international Leon Bailey’s struggles are likely down to a lack of game time and has vowed to give the player enough chances to play into rhythm.

The 24-year-old winger has shown sparks of brilliance since making the move from Bundesliga outfit Bayer Leverkusen last summer but has faced lengthy spells on the sideline after struggling with injury.

 Bailey has started just two of the club's last 18 league fixtures, but a thigh injury saw him miss over nine weeks of action.  The player started the club’s last game against Leicester City but was less than impressive. 

"I think that if you asked Leon, that’s what he wants and craves. I was pretty pleased with his performance last week, he should have scored early on after six or even minutes to put us in the lead,” Gerrard said when asked of the player’s desire for game time.

 "He might put that down to a lack of game time and rust and getting in the rhythm. But Leon is a big talent and we want to keep him moving, keep giving him game time and the opportunity to get back in his own rhythm,” he added.

The Jamaican could be in contention for the starting line-up against Norwich tomorrow, but Gerrard remained tight-lipped.

"We know that when he is in that rhythm he’s a top player. I haven’t confirmed my team to the boys for obvious reasons and I haven’t confirmed it to any of my staff, you know, a couple of hours before the game I’ll confirm that team and you’ll have to wait and see what options I decide."

 

 

Steven Gerrard believes extending Jurgen Klopp's contract is Liverpool's "most important signing for many years to come".

Reds boss Klopp signed a two-year extension to his deal at Anfield on Thursday that will keep him tied to the club until 2026.

Gerrard, who is now manager of Aston Villa, played almost his entire career at Liverpool, making 710 appearances, scoring 186 goals and winning two FA Cups, three League Cups, a UEFA Cup and a Champions League with his boyhood club.

Speaking at a media conference ahead of Villa's Premier League match with Norwich City, Gerrard said Klopp's new deal was good news for all Liverpool fans.

"You can tell by the smile," he said when asked what he thought. "Listen, all the Liverpool fans worldwide are absolutely delighted with the news.

"Congratulations to Jurgen and his staff, and I think it'll be Liverpool's most important signing for many years to come. That's how highly we all think of him. [It is] terrific news for Liverpool Football Club."

 

Gerrard has inevitably been linked with an eventual move to manage his former club, having spent a brief spell in charge of Liverpool's under-18 side before moving to Rangers, where he won the club's first Scottish Premiership title in 10 years.

He became manager of Villa in November and has overseen 22 matches so far in all competitions, winning eight, drawing three and losing 11.

Liverpool are still in the hunt for an unprecedented quadruple this season, having already won the EFL Cup. Klopp's men have an FA Cup final against Chelsea to come, are 2-0 ahead after the first leg of their Champions League semi-final with Villarreal and sit just a point behind Manchester City at the top of the Premier League with five games remaining, with both scheduled to play Villa in the run-in.

"I think he certainly deserves it for the way he's performed," Gerrard continued. "I think the [Liverpool] fans have been craving that signing for some time, and he's built a world-class team, and I think they're on the cusp of something really special.

"We can have an influence in that, so that'll be interesting when [Liverpool] come to Villa Park. We wish them well outside of that fixture, and I think it's totally deserved and it's fantastic news for Liverpool Football Club. I think it's the most important signing for a very long time at the club."

The final matchday of the Champions League quarter-finals has arrived, with Liverpool and Manchester City in touching distance of the last four.

The Premier League pair played out a thrilling 2-2 draw in what many billed as the title decider on Sunday, but their attention now turns back to Europe as they hunt yet more silverware.

Liverpool, if uncomfortable at times, managed a 3-1 victory at the Estadio da Luz, while City hold a slender 1-0 advantage heading to the Wanda Metropolitano against Atletico Madrid.

Here, Stats Perform unpacks the pick of the data from a decisive Wednesday in UEFA's flagship club competition.

Atletico Madrid v Manchester City: Simeone's side must end home hoodoo

City make their first ever trip to Atletico in European competition having won just three of their last 11 away games against Spanish side – though Pep Guardiola's team won their most recent visit to Real Madrid (2-1 in February 2020).

The Premier League leaders do so with a narrow 1-0 first-leg lead, thanks to Kevin De Bruyne, after Atletico lost the first away leg of a Champions League knockout tie for a fourth time.

Simeone's side, though, may take confidence from the fact they have progressed on two of the three previous occasions they have lost the first leg away from home.

But the reigning LaLiga champions will have to turn around their torrid home form in the competition if they are to do so, given they are winless in their last seven home games in Europe.

The compact setup that many branded as negative will also have to make way for Atletico to compete, after they failed to record a single shot in the first meeting at the Etihad Stadium.

The fewest attempts across two-leg Champions League knockout ties is four (Shakhtar Donetsk v Bayern Munich in 2014-15), since Opta began recording in 2003-04, while the only team to have failed to record a shot on target across two legs in this period was Deportivo La Coruna in the 2003-04 semi-finals against Porto.

Simeone will look to Antoine Griezmann to make the difference, with the forward one goal away from overtaking David Trezeguet (29) for the fourth-most strikes by a Frenchman in the competition.

Meanwhile, City will reach the landmark of 100 games in the Champions League, having won 55 of their first 99 – only Real Madrid have triumphed more in their first 100 matches (57).

Liverpool v Benfica: Formidable Reds lucky Portuguese omen

The omens will be good if Liverpool can progress past Benfica here, given they have gone on to win the competition on the last two occasions they have won both legs in a European Cup or Champions League knockout tie against the Portuguese side, doing so in 1977-78 and 1983-84.

The Reds have won each of their last five games against Portuguese sides in Europe's premier club competition, scoring 16 goals and only conceding three times. 

Indeed, they are unbeaten in nine games against teams from Portugal in the competition since Benfica won at Anfield in March 2006 (W7 D2), as they eye a third Champions League semi-final under Jurgen Klopp.

That is as many times as the Reds had managed to do so prior to Klopp taking charge (2004-05, 2006-07 and 2007-08, all under Rafa Benitez), with the German somewhat of a knockout specialist.

There is no denying Liverpool are heavy favourites; they have progressed from each of their last 12 ties in the Champions League knockout stages after winning the first leg, since a 2001-02 quarter-final loss to Bayer Leverkusen, who lost 1-0 in the first leg before winning 4-2 in the return meeting.

Central to Klopp's plan will be the seemingly out of form Mohamed Salah, whose next home goal will see him overtake Steven Gerrard (14) for the most goals by a Liverpool player at Anfield across the European Cup and Champions League.

While only two teams have ever won by more than one goal away to Liverpool in the latter stages of the competition, one of those occasions was Benfica in a 2-0 victory in the last-16 in 2005-06.

Darwin Nunes will be the key, with the forward scoring five times in nine European appearances this season – no player has ever netted more in a single Champions League campaign for the Primeira Liga side.

Steven Gerrard says Harry Kane does not need to join another team to find happiness, as it would mean more to win a trophy with Tottenham than any other club.

Kane stayed at Tottenham for the 2021-22 campaign, despite asking to leave the north London side after Manchester City made a bid reportedly in excess of £100million.

Following a slow start to the season, which many put down to his failure to seal a move away, the England skipper has regained top form since mid-December.

Indeed, since December 19, Kane has scored 14 goals and assisted five more in all competitions.

Over that timeframe, only Kylian Mbappe (20) and Karim Benzema (24) have been directly involved in more goals than Kane's 19 among players from Europe's top five leagues.

Despite the 28-year-old's impressive form in the second half of the season, Tottenham will end the campaign without any silverware as Kane's wait for a trophy goes on.

But Gerrard, who spent all but one season of his 18-year playing career with boyhood side Liverpool, hopes to see his compatriot stay at Tottenham for a while longer yet.

"I admire his loyalty to Tottenham and, of course, I'm sure it's been tempting for him on many occasions to go and take one of those options," said Aston Villa boss Gerrard.

"The Spurs fans should enjoy him and admire the loyalty he's given them. You can see a guy who is desperate for success with Tottenham and I have a lot of admiration for that.

"He might still have the chance to achieve a couple of things in his career which might mean more to him with Tottenham than anyone else because of what they have given him."

Gerrard, who came close to swapping Liverpool for Chelsea in 2005, added: "That's what it boiled down to with me. 

"The decision was, yes I could go to three or four teams in a foreign country or a couple domestically who maybe have a better chance of winning.

"But winning something with your team - the one you love and the supporters you love - I think that will mean more to him for the rest of his life than a short-term fix."

While clearly a fan of Kane, Gerrard will hope the in-form striker has a quiet day on Saturday when Villa host Tottenham in the Premier League.

Kane has scored in all three of his away league meetings with Villa for Spurs and could become the second player after Romelu Lukaku to net in four on the spin against them.

Ahead of the contest at Villa Park, Gerrard revealed his regret at not being able to play alongside Kane, who made his England debut a year after Gerrard's final cap.

"I wish I had the opportunity to play with him; you always want to play with top players," Gerrard said.

"The way he plays would have helped my game to the next level, and I've got enough confidence and belief in the way I played, I might have been able to help him. 

"I played with world-class players with England, and unfortunately, I never got the chance to play with him.

"He's the perfect captain for England right now, a world-class player and with the way he carries himself on and off the pitch."

Frank Lampard is finding it tough going but should be able to keep Everton in the Premier League, according to former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Since his appointment at the end of January, Lampard has lost seven of nine league games with the Toffees, a sticky start to his assignment at Goodison Park.

The poor run has continued a trend that began under predecessor Rafael Benitez, who got a tune out of the squad in the early weeks of the season before Everton hit bum note after bum note.

It means that Everton could be relegated for the first time in the Premier League era, given they sit just one point above third-bottom Burnley going into their final nine games of the season.

They have Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea coming up in the next five games, along with two matches against Leicester City, and Everton appear to have only downwards momentum for now.

Eriksson had Lampard as a key figure in his England teams for Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup, and got to know the man as well as the player.

And while the veteran Swede has not been convinced by every step Lampard has taken so far in his coaching career, notably during his time at Chelsea, he can see the 43-year-old guiding Everton to safety.

"Lampard got tough and strange when he had Chelsea. And I think maybe too early he took one of the biggest teams in Premier League and in Europe," Eriksson said. "Because it's not easy to come straight from a player to make a coach. Especially in the club you've been playing in, so I felt sorry for him.

"And now Everton, they're fighting, but Everton will stay, they will not go down."

Eriksson was speaking to Stats Perform ahead of Everton's defeat at Burnley on Wednesday evening, when a 3-2 loss compounded the team's recent poor form.

Lampard has lost all five of his top-flight away games in charge of Everton, making him the first manager to lose his first five away matches at a Premier League club since Jan Siewert at Huddersfield Town in 2019, who lost his first seven.

Now 74, Eriksson in his England days strove to find a system in which Lampard and Steven Gerrard could thrive. It would be a struggle for subsequent England bosses too, with both players having such attacking instincts from central midfield that it led to many a selection conundrum. Eriksson would instruct one to sit back when the other went forward, in an effort to ensure gaps were not left for the opposition to exploit.

Few doubted the qualities of either man on the pitch, but they are having to prove themselves in a management capacity now, and many playing greats have failed to establish such careers.

With Gerrard at mid-table Aston Villa, after a successful spell in Rangers, it remains to be seen whether there is room in the Premier League for both men next season.

Eriksson said: "I'm very happy to see them both. And I could imagine that both of them would be coaches in the future when I had them as players because they are both extremely, extremely intelligent as football players and as human beings, but they know football.

"They were not one of those players just going out playing and saying, ‘Give me the ball’, or whatever it is. No, tactically, they were very, very strong.

"For me, they played together in the midfield. They could attack, both of them. They could defend, both of them. So, if one went the other one stayed, and it's a pleasure.

"I'm sure both of them will have good career. And you can almost take a bet that when [Jurgen] Klopp is finished at Liverpool who's going to have that job. I'm quite sure that Steven Gerrard will be a strong contender for that."

Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard described the appointment of Xavi as head coach by Barcelona as a "masterstroke".

Xavi has made an impressive start to life in the Camp Nou dugout and enjoyed a resounding 4-0 thrashing of El Clasico rivals Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu before the international break.

The former Spain and Barca midfielder was hired after the October sacking of Ronald Koeman, having previously coached Qatari side Al Sadd.

Speaking after a charity match between Liverpool and Barcelona legends at Anfield on Saturday, Gerrard – now in charge at Aston Villa – applauded the return of Xavi when speaking to Barca's media team.

"I think with the appointment of Xavi, it was a masterstroke by Barcelona," he said. "[He is] someone who has got Barcelona in his DNA and who has been a world-class player for many years.

"He obviously knows the style and what all the Barcelona people want to see. And after some challenging times it looks as if they're getting back to where they need to be.

"It was obviously a huge result against Real Madrid, and as a fan of Barcelona from afar, it's good to see them back and firing well."

The Clasico win meant Xavi became just the third coach in LaLiga history to win his first Clasico match by four or more goals, after Ferdinand Daucik in 1951 and Helenio Herrera in 1959.

The Blaugrana are on a 13-match unbeaten streak in LaLiga and won their past five league games, scoring four in all but one of those.

"As a coach in my position you're always trying to learn off everyone you can," Gerrard continued. "There's a lot of media around Xavi because obviously he was a world-class player. He's someone I have the utmost respect for as a player and I'm obviously watching him as a coach as well.

"He's on a similar journey to myself, very young, very new. I'm sure he's learning a lot every day like myself, but I'd like to give him a personal good luck message. I hope he makes it a big success and I'd love to see him at Barcelona for many years."

Gerrard scored in the 2-1 win for Barca's legends on Merseyside, with Rivaldo and Giovanni netting for the visitors.

Steven Gerrard says it "doesn't make any sense" to discuss Philippe Coutinho's future now and Aston Villa should simply enjoy having such a "world-class talent."

Villa pulled off a major coup during the January transfer window by signing the Barcelona midfielder on loan until the end of the season.

Coutinho has enjoyed a new lease of life on his return to the Premier League, scoring three goals and providing as many assists in seven appearances.

The playmaker was outstanding in Villa's 4-0 demolition of Southampton last weekend and Leeds United will be wary of facing the former Liverpool man at Elland Road on Thursday.

Coutinho is under contract with Barca until June 2023, but Villa have the option to buy the Brazil international for a fee of £33million (€40m)

Villa boss Gerrard is ensuring he gets the best out of Coutinho for the remainder of the season rather than concern himself over whether he can sign his ex-Reds team-mate on a permanent basis.

"When he's comfortable, he's happy and he's enjoying his football we all know we're dealing with a world-class talent," he said.

"For me, it doesn't make sense to make any decisions now or say anything else on this, we just need to keep enjoying him and keep him healthy from now until the end of the season."

 

Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard insists the club is anxiously waiting to see the best of Jamaica forward Leon Bailey after a stop-start beginning to life at Villa Park.

The 24-year-old returned to English Premier League action last weekend, with a 10-minute spell against Newcastle, following a lengthy lay-off.

The player had been out of action since December after damaging his thigh muscle during the first half against Manchester City.  At the time, Bailey was finding himself sidelined for the second time with the same injury after damaging the muscle against Everton in September.

His exhilarating cameo against the Toffees, however, showed glimpses of what the player could bring to the table.  Gerrard took notice.

“I remember he came off the bench against Everton – I was watching the game on TV – and he lifted the stadium up,” the coach said.

“He scored a wonderful goal,” he added

“Everyone is waiting for him. The owners, the board, the staff, the players.

“We’re all waiting for Leon to really burst onto the scene, stay healthy and find his best level.

“We have signed a talent who has produced at his previous clubs, and he’s shown flashes.

“Leon’s focus has to be on staying fit, getting himself in the best physical condition, and allowing his talent to flourish.”

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