Having arrived at Liverpool for a mere £8.5M, Philippe Coutinho quickly established himself as the steal of last winter's transfer window and, after an injury hampered start to his first full season in England, he continues to impress at the club level. Though not a natural goalscorer, the work he does to support the attack has been key in Liverpool's free-scoring ways this season, and the team look far better whenever he's in it.
After struggling to make his mark at Inter Milan, it's no more than what was expected from the talented youngster when he first moved to Europe at the age of 18. In his time stuck on the fringes for the Italian giants, though, a number Brazil's other rising stars surpassed him on the national team, and as a result he has so far only made a single appearance for Brazil's senior side.
One might expect Brendan Rodgers would want to keep him all to Liverpool for as long as possible, but the Liverpool manager has instead chosen to do the exact opposite by looking to convince Brazil boss Luiz Scolari to give Coutinho a chance to impress at the international level with an eye to working his way into contention for next summer's World Cup in his homeland.
"Philippe is such a talent now, he is an absolute joy to watch, and I have been on to Scolari constantly about him because I know Luiz from my Chelsea days," Rodgers told the club's official site when asked about the youngster's Brazil chances. "Brazil have such an array of talent in Neymar, Oscar, and Bernard, but Scolari knows all about Coutinho because I have been on about him and Lucas.
"Lucas has got into the team, which is great. Obviously it is more difficult for Philippe as there is a lot of competition in his position, but he really is at that level and he just has to keep playing and pushing his case. Felipe has asked me to keep an eye on the Brazil boys and give any feedback—even ones from other clubs—but I'm only concerned about ours here and, for me, Philippe is brilliant."
With Scolari carrying a reputation for favouring a set lineup, working his way into the picture will be difficult for Coutinho even with Rodgers having the ear of the Brazil boss. If he keeps up his current form the rest of the season, though, he will certainly deserve strong consideration. And if his international aspirations can be met while at Liverpool then there will be at least one less reason for fans to fear Coutinho having his head turned by a side in Spain or Italy.
Throw in a top four finish being far likelier with an on-form Coutinho and it might be time for Liverpool fans to start hoping the playmaker finds himself heading back home to Brazil next summer as part of the national team.