Istanbul Magic Dazzled Coutinho

Mike Hewitt

He's settled quickly into life on Merseyside and Phillipe Coutinho has been speaking about the things that convinced him to move to Anfield as well as the hopes he harbours for the future.

As one of the few Liverpool players not on international duty, Phillipe Coutinho is in demand with the local press. Covered on these pages by Elizabeth L, he recently spoke at length about his adjustment to life in L4. His latest interview, via interpreter, with The Liverpool Echo, is equally revealing and deals with his reflections on the recent past and his hopes for the future. He also places into perspective what the move to Liverpool Football Club has meant to him.

"Growing up in Brazil," says Coutinho, "I knew all about Liverpool. It's such a big club all over the world. I was very young but I remember watching the Champions League final in 2005 when Liverpool came back from 3-0 down to win the trophy. That was unbelievable."

Rio de Janeiro native, Coutinho, reckons that "things have gone really well" for him at Liverpool thus far, something he attributes to the players and staff making him feel "so welcome," as well as the time he spent at Inter Milan and Espanyol developing his game.

Without dwelling too much on what is past, the young Brazilian reflects ruefully on his time with the Serie A giants. Having been announced as "the future of Inter" by club overlord Massimo Morrati upon his arrival from Vasco da Gama in 2010, Coutinho was handed his debut by one Rafael Benitez, latterly of L4. He made a big impression but his progress was stymied by injuries and even after his successful loan spell with noted skinny jeans devotee, Mauricio Pochettino, at Espanyol, he could not force his way into current coach Andrea Stramaccioni's plans.

"I honestly don't know why things didn't work out at Inter. I always worked the same way and tried to do my best. Sometimes things are just not meant to work. Inter for me now belongs in the past. My head is in Liverpool and it's here I want to develop as a player."

Most will already be aware of the immediate bond between Coutinho and his countryman Lucas, whom he spoke with at length before committing to the move to Liverpool. Since his arrival in the city, the older man has been a source of almost paternal support to the young forward but Coutinho makes particular mention of the influence of Brendan Rodgers.

"The manager here is still young but he's an excellent person and a very good coach," says the forward."He speaks openly to everyone and I'm pleased to be working with him...The manager has shown a lot of faith in me and hopefully I will repay that. I want to win some titles here and compensate the club for what they've done for me."

The new recruit is taking English lessons regularly, but apparently Rodgers speaks Spanish to Coutinho at training and Lucas is also on hand to translate the finer points of drills, set-piece routines or formation work, if needs be. The rapid-fire Scouse of Carragher and Gerrard is, no doubt, a challenge but it is encouraging to see the efforts being made by our most recent signing.

It will come as a surprise to some that Coutinho is already married, having wed his childhood sweetheart Aine in December. The couple recently acquired a home and it seems that he is an eminently sensible and balanced young man, with his focus squarely on progressing at Liverpool Football Club.

With Arsenal five points ahead in fifth place and holding a game in hand over Liverpool, qualification for European football is a big ask. Perhaps it would be a wise fan who decided to simply enjoy the performances of this admirable young Brazilian and his comrades, as the final eight games of the season play out.

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