Philippe Coutinho joins Michael Olunga at Al Duhail

KENYASportsWORLD
Philippe Coutinho joins Michael Olunga at Al Duhail

Philippe Coutinho has left Aston Villa to join Al-Duhail, a Qatari team well-known to Kenyan fans as the current home of Harambee Stars captain Michael Olunga.

Coutinho’s journey from Villa Park to Al-Duhail comes after his initial short-term deal from Barcelona was made permanent the previous summer.

“Aston Villa can confirm Philippe Coutinho has completed a season-long loan move to Al Duhail,” Villa said in a statement.

Arriving on loan in January 2022, the Brazilian shone in Villa colors, netting in his debut against Manchester United. His excellence secured a permanent switch from Barcelona, tallying 43 games and six goals.

Despite his promising start in the Premier League upon his arrival, the former Liverpool playmaker struggled with form and injuries during his time at Aston Villa.

Last season, Coutinho made just seven league starts and scored only once, facing additional setbacks like a hamstring injury suffered shortly after being introduced against Everton last month.

Philippe Coutinho
Coutinho has suffered injury setbacks leading to limited game time at Aston Villa. [Photo/Courtesy].

Having experienced a challenging period since his £142 million transfer to Barcelona from Liverpool in 2018, Coutinho is now setting his sights on a fresh start in the Middle East with Al-Duhail.

Notably, the Harambee Stars‘ captain has been representing Al-Duhail since 2021 when he made the transition from Japanese club Kashiwa Reysol.

Olunga’s presence at Al-Duhail has brought pride to Kenyan football enthusiasts, and now, with Coutinho joining the team, there’s growing anticipation about the prospects of both players on the Qatari stage.

Michael Olunga
Harambee Stars captain Michael Olunga celebrates scoring for Al Duhail. [Photo/Courtesy].

The 31-year-old Brazilian still has three years remaining on his four-year contract signed with Villa last summer.

He will now have the opportunity to work with Al-Duhail’s manager, Hernan Crespo, who led the team to Qatar Stars League glory in the previous season.

Villa’s manager, Emery, has expressed respect for Coutinho’s talent and cited injuries as the primary reason for the decision to let him leave.

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