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Coutinho on Flourishing, Family, and Fans

Having successfully burst into the first team after arriving in January, Philippe Coutinho is settling into his new surroundings and working to adapt his game to the pace and the power of the Premier League.

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Michael Regan

Show me a Liverpool fan who is not excited about Philippe Coutinho and I will show you a corpse.

It's a rare feat to become a fan favourite immediately upon arrival at a new club, especially at the tender age of twenty-years-old, but Coutinho's impact on the club's generally positive displays in the two months he's been in Liverpool is reflected in the two goals and two assists he's already added to the team's overall tally. While five appearances is nothing to base any long term predictions on, early returns on Coutinho's performances have many feeling optimistic about his future on Merseyside.

All this might be enough to quickly go to a young man's head, but in Coutinho's first lengthy interview for the club he comes across as a modest, grounded, and eager young player.

Describing himself as "grateful" that a club like Liverpool had him on their radar, Coutinho is refreshingly accepting of how much he still has to learn despite having already had to adapt his game to four different styles of play in four different leagues in only four years.

"I don't know anything about football yet," he said. "I am still learning but playing in different countries has been important and it has helped. I played in Spain and football is played faster there than in Brazil. In Italy, it's a bit more like here and I think that has helped me, too.

"The language is different and football is very different from Italy to Brazil and so that was difficult. I had played all my life - for 11, 12 or 13 years - in Brazil and to move all of a sudden to a new country is very difficult. It was a new culture and to be away from my friends was difficult, but in time I got used to it and now I am here [at Liverpool]."

While everyone at the club has been welcoming to the new player, it has unsurprisingly been the South American cohort who have helped Coutinho adjust to multiple language barriers and generally feel enveloped into the sense of "family" the club projects. Between speaking Portuguese with Lucas Leiva and a tiny bit of Spanish with Luis Suarez and Sebastian Coates, Coutinho is able to understand and be understood by other members of the club. Practicalities of language comprehension aside, it's the strong familial bonds held dear by his teammates that have made Coutinho most comfortable.

"It is a great club and like a big family - that is very important for a young player that has just arrived," he said. "It leaves me at ease to do the thing I love most, which is to play football."

Although many are still wondering how a twenty-six-year-old can serve as a paternal figure to a player only six years his junior, Coutinho confirmed Lucas's role as his "dad" on the team, saying "He has been like a father to me and that has helped me a lot." There is no photographic proof yet on whether or not Coutinho has been invited to Monopoly night at the Leiva household, but surely it's only a matter of time.

Few players Coutinho's age have had the chance to play for one club with a famous stadium and a storied past, let alone two clubs that boast these qualities. His experiences at the famed San Siro seem to have kept the scale of that heritage in perspective, but it's the fans who have set Liverpool apart from the likes of Inter Milan in his eyes.

"Anfield is a great stadium - another great stadium where I am having the opportunity to play for a club with a great history," he said. "The fans are great and always giving their support. It makes me very happy. I was very moved [by 'You'll Never Walk Alone']. Here it is very different from Brazil and Italy. In every match the fans are there, the stadium is full and the fans shouting. In Brazil, it is not like this and in Italy even less so. It is very moving to see the stadium full and everybody singing. It is great."

Fan service is the bread and butter of most initial major interviews with a new recruit, but having played in two of the most football-mad countries in the world prior to landing in Liverpool, Coutinho should know better than most what a happy stadium might sound like.

Coutinho is still in the midst of a very happy honeymoon period that will obviously have to end at some point, but his encouraging start both on and off the pitch will hopefully keep young Phil on a good run of form through to the end of the season at the very least.

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