Few players sparkled as Philippe Coutinho did over the course of Liverpool’s pre-season, and the diminutive Brazilian’s incredible showing against Borussia Dortmund on Sunday was the icing on an already sweet cake. Though Coutinho had a successful pre-season last year as well, he wasn’t able to perform as consistently during the regular season as many would have hoped. Brendan Rodgers believes, though, that the midfielder is ready to take the next step.
"He's come into this country and league, and lit it up with his quality,” Rodgers said after the Dortmund match. “It's now about doing that on the big stage - the Champions League, and he's got the chance to go and do that. I think that even at that level, he will show what great qualities he has. I really see him over the next four or five years, being a big force in world football, both for Brazil and Liverpool.
"He's an incredible operator, just magical to watch and he's the kind of player that supporters come to see. We're very glad to have him. He's so gifted as a player. He's just magical. His ability to get out of tight situations and his view of the game is incredible. That's his best position - playing between the lines, he doesn't get marked. He drops to the back of midfield, he draws defenders out, and the weight of his passes is phenomenal.”
Coutinho is expected to be offered a contract extension in the near future and it’s not hard to see why given both his on pitch performances and his manager’s obvious enthusiasm for his play. It’s a feeling Coutinho reciprocates, as it’s been under Rodgers’ guidance that Coutinho has continued to bloom as a young player.
“I owe thanks to Brendaõ (Brendan Rodgers) for that,” Coutinho said in a Brazilian radio interview on the subject of no longer being so mild-mannered on the pitch. “After Wigan away, where I didn't stop fighting - Brendan called me to office and told me he's sure I can be a 'volanté' or a no. 8. Brendan showed me I can learn. Brendaõ said before Everton at Anfield, "Do you have the fire?" Before Arsenal he told me to not give them peace. I gave no peace.”
The emergence of a more fiery Phil fed into his disappointment at not being selected for Brazil’s World Cup squad. The midfielder was angry at the exclusion as he felt he could have contributed positively to Luiz Felipe Scolari squad that came up short, but he plans to channel those feelings in a positive direction to help his team.
“I'm going to use this anger and push myself to my limits,” Coutinho said. “I saw how Luisito (Suárez) was a maniac in training. At this point, my body and mind feel like clay. I will mold it the way I envision, and I will use my fire to make them harder.”
Poetry in motion, indeed.