Last season, Philippe Coutinho set himself apart as Liverpool's best player, and one who still had plenty of potential to grow into one of the best in the game. Like so many of his teammates, this season started slowly, but over the past six weeks he has been back to his best.
Playing higher up the pitch than in the past, under new manager Jürgen Klopp he has cut down on a tendency to take hopeful long shots and been rewarded with four goals in his last three league games. Even when things weren't quite going his way earlier in the year, though, it was clear Coutinho was Liverpool's best player.
It's role he has taken some time to grow into, but one in which he now seems fully comfortable in. For a time, though, before he arrived at Liverpool, it seemed as though Coutinho's development might have stalled; that he might never become the player he is today. It's something he still thinks about.
"I had some difficulties in Italy when I was younger," said the 23-year-old. "Only a few chances to play, injuries, not feeling my best, worrying about my family, but everything has fallen into place. I'm happy now and settled. I'm playing all the time, I'm learning and becoming stronger, so this is all good for me."
Things haven't always gone perfectly smoothly for Coutinho at Liverpool, but the club and fans clearly value the diminutive Brazilian, and that has helped him not just to settle but to excel in the frenetic Premier League after struggling to make a mark in three seasons with Serie A giants Inter Milan.
Having recently lost the manager who helped him become the player he is at Liverpool marks a new challenge for Coutinho in England, and no manager has spent as many seasons with Coutinho as Brendan Rodgers did before he was let go. On early evidence, it's not a change that's going to set him back.
And in part because of how many managers he played under before arriving at Liverpool—Rodgers became his sixth senior manager part way through his sixth season, and Jürgen Klopp now his seventh—Coutinho knows this is part of the game and is ready for the new challenges that change brings.
"At Inter there were many different managers in and out so you get used to change," added the midfield playmaker. "Of course, since I came to Liverpool, Brendan helped me a lot, taught me a lot, and was very good for my career. He gave me me a proper chance and showed me many ways to be a better player.
"The new manager has also been really good since coming in. He is very passionate and encouraging. His instructions are simple, but he pushes us a lot and there is a good feeling around the place. He has big energy and it rubs off. He wants us to enjoy the game, have fun, but also give it all our respect."