Unai Emery insists Philippe Coutinho can help his Aston Villa team in the long run as the Spaniard waves away suggestions that the former Liverpool ace could struggle for game time in the second half of the season.
Coutinho missed Emery’s first three matches as the new Villa head coach through injury, but has impressed in training at Bodymoor Heath this week ahead of the Premier League clash with Liverpool on Boxing Day. The Brazilian has failed to impress for Villa this term and has only scored one goal in 23 league appearances.
Signed by Steven Gerrard on loan nearly 12 months ago, Coutinho then penned a permanent contract at Villa in the summer having displayed some encouraging signs in his initial spell last season. Due to his lack of form since the back of the last campaign, reports in Brazil have speculated that Corinthians are interested in taking the ex-Barcelona attacker on loan.
Emery has moved to deny that Coutinho is available to leave the club as he retains that Coutinho could be a key player under his watch. “Coutinho had two or three training sessions when I arrived here,” Emery said . “He trained very good, very good. He was very excited to try to show me and show us his best qualities.
“The injury was in a bad moment for everybody, for him, for the club, for the team. Now, he is training every day and I am seeing him really training well.
“I expect of him the best Coutinho possible. For him on Monday it is a special match playing against Liverpool and I think he is going to be in the squad. He is not ready to play 90 minutes, but I am looking forward to seeing him on the pitch, in the matches and with his quality he can help us a lot.