His fitness levels may not quite be up to putting in a full ninety-minute shift every week for Liverpool just yet, but Philippe Coutinho has nonetheless made a massive impact since arriving at his new club near the end of the January transfer window.
Two goals and three assists since he arrived along with lively play in the attacking third and at least a willingness to track back has quickly endeared him to supporters and put him amongst the first names on the teamsheet. And if it can be said that Liverpool have quickly taken to Coutinho, it seems the player's feelings towards his new club are similar.
"I have been very well received here," Coutinho told Brazilian outlet Globo Esporte as he and his new teammates prepare for the final seven games of the Premier League season. "Everyone has treated me really well and the club is like a family, even with so many great players playing here."
Despite some doubts about his slight stature and how quickly he would adjust to the English game, Coutinho has quickly shown that exceptional skill and technique rarely need an extended settling in period. In fact, early returns suggest the diminutive 20-year-old may if anything be a more effective player in England.
In the Premier League, if can beat the first man, space opens up that wouldn't have been there for him in the more disciplined Serie A—though in Italy he wouldn't have faced the same instant pressure. And Coutinho believes as he grows more comfortable with the aggressive style played in England it will only benefit his game further.
"The style here is much more physical," he admitted. "That was hard during my first few weeks here. In Italy they have more tactical discipline, marking is tighter, so there is less space. Here it is faster, there are more spaces to play in, but I also have to be faster. It's a lot better [for me] playing in England."
He also revealed that manager Brendan Rodgers has set the goal of finishing top five to ensure a return to European competition next season: "We have the goal of winning as many games as possible to try and catch up with the top teams. The manager has always made it clear that we have to finish in the top five to qualify for [the Europa League]."
No matter where Liverpool end up this term, it's quickly becoming clear the club will have achieved at least one unqualified success this year—the signing of Coutinho for a paltry £8.5M in January. European competition or not, their chances look a whole lot better for next season with him in the squad than they did before he arrived.