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17th Jan 2022

Rafa Benitez rejected chance to sign Coutinho on loan for Everton

Callum Boyle

Coutinho is now at Aston Villa

Philippe Coutinho could have become an Everton player this month, however former boss Rafael Benitez rejected the chance to bring the Brazilian to Goodison Park.

The Mirror reported that Coutinho, who instead joined Aston Villa on loan until the end of the season, had the opportunity to go to Everton after the Toffees made contact with Barcelona.

With a deal all set in place, it looked as if the 29-year-old was set for a return to Merseyside. However, Benitez, who had final say on transfers, blocked the move.

As a result, Steven Gerrard was able to pounce and reunite with his former Liverpool teammate and Coutinho marked his return to the Premier League in emphatic style by coming off the bench to score the equaliser for Villa against Manchester United.

The news comes shortly after one of Benitez’s final acts as Everton manager was to sell star full-back Lucas Digne to the West Midlands side, sparking huge protests from Everton supporters.

Benitez was then sacked just days later after an embarrassing 2-1 defeat to relegation-threatened Norwich City to leave the Toffees just six points clear of the relegation spots in 16th.

At one stage, it looked as if Roberto Martinez would be returning to the club he left in 2016, however talks between him and Everton have broken down as the Belgian Football Association are reluctant to let him leave his current role shortly before the World Cup.

The likes of Duncan Ferguson and Graham Potter have been linked with the job, as well as former Everton youngster Wayne Rooney who is currently in charge of Championship side Derby County.

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