Liverpool are close to finalizing a new four-and-a-half year contract with midfielder Philippe Coutinho, reports the Daily Mail. This news comes alongside reports that the club is also nearing the completion of a new deal with star forward Raheem Sterling.
Coutinho has starred for Liverpool ever since Brendan Rodgers allowed him more playmaking freedom in the 3-4-3 formation. Against Chelsea, Coutinho overcame the physicality of Nemanja Matic and John Obi Mikel in the central midfield to orchestrate an impressive attacking performance that saw Liverpool outplay the visitors for much of the match.
Rodgers spoke about Coutinho's latest performance in glowing terms. "He was outstanding the other night," he said.
Rodgers also discussed Coutinho's somewhat difficult start to the season, attributing his earlier issues to subpar play from the players surrounding him. "It was a difficult start to the season for him because if you think of Phil Coutinho, he has that bit of magic to make the key pass in the final third and combines with people ahead of him so well," Rodgers said. "At the beginning of this season, he didn't have that. Probably until six or seven weeks ago, his ability to make that threaded pass through wasn't on because he didn't have that [energy and movement upfront]."
"We had to look at how to bring out the best in all our players, and once he's had mobility, energy and speed around him, it's lifted his game."
Liverpool's manager concluded his discussion of Coutinho by looking to the future. "He's a class act, and he's still got so much growth and development to undertake here." With a new contract, Liverpool fans will get to see that growth first-hand.