Coutinho wants to see Villa back in Europe

LONDON: Philippe Coutinho is aiming to help Aston Villa return to European football after signing a four-year deal to join the Premier League side from Barcelona.

The 29-year-old Brazilian, who has moved for a fee of 20 million euros ($21 million, £17 million) has impressed since arriving at the Birmingham club on loan in January after struggling to make an impact in Spain.

Villa are 12th in English football's top flight ahead of Sunday's visit of Crystal Palace.

Winners of the European Cup -- the forerunner of the Champions League -- back in 1982, Villa have not played in a major continental competition since a Europa League play-off defeat by Rapid Vienna 12 years ago.

“We can do better than we did this year and we want to achieve things like getting into Europe,“ Coutinho told Villa’s website on Saturday.

“I believe so much in the squad and the work the staff is doing.

“I believe that’s where we have to be, playing in European games. That’s what we will work hard for.”

Coutinho played alongside Villa manager Steven Gerrard at Liverpool and he was clearly glad to be reunited with the former England midfielder.

“He believes in me,“ he added. “We’ve known each other for a long time and I felt very welcome from him and his staff when I arrived here.

“He’s a great manager, for sure. I’m happy to be managed by him and his staff. His ambitions are high and I believe in the same things he believes in. I want to work hard to achieve these things.

“I believe so much in this club and that’s why I signed here. I’m very, very happy.”-AFP