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Coutinho reduced salary to join Aston Villa: Xavi

MADRID (AFP) – Xavi Hernandez has praised the professionalism of Philippe Coutinho and said the Brazilian took a wage-cut to complete his loan move to Aston Villa, which was confirmed by both clubs on Friday.

Villa will pay around half of Coutinho’s salary for the duration of the deal, which expires in the summer, although Villa will then have an option to buy the midfielder for a reported fee of around EUR40 million.

Coutinho’s Barcelona contract, which expires in 2023, earned him around EUR20 million a year but Xavi said on Friday the 29-year-old agreed to a reduction in terms to return to the Premier League, where he links up with former Liverpool teammate Steven Gerrard.

“It says a lot about him that he wanted to leave to get more minutes,” Xavi said. “His salary has been reduced. He is a great professional and he wants to succeed. He was struggling here and he has looked for a solution.”

Coutinho’s exit is not thought to have reduced Barcelona’s wage bill enough to allow them to register Ferran Torres, who they signed earlier this week from Manchester City.

Torres is currently unavailable after testing positive for COVID-19 but he is also not allowed to play until Barca make his arrival comply with their spending limit of EUR98 million.

“Mateu Alemany (Barcelona’s director of football) is working 24 hours a day so that Ferran can play when he tests negative for coronavirus. I am optimistic, I trust the most in the club management,” Xavi said.

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