Philippe Coutinho - Player Profile

Liverpool’s Cream Of The Kop

Personal information
Full name: Philippe Coutinho Correia
Date of birth: 12 June 1992
Age: 22
Place of birth: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Height: 1.71 m (5 ft 7 1⁄2 in)
Playing position: Attacking midfielder/Winger

Club information 
Current team:
Number: 10
Youth career 1999–2008: Vasco da Gama
Senior career2009–2010: Vasco da Gama 26 Appearances, 2 goals
2010–2013: Internazionale 50 Appearances, 5 goals
2012 → Espanyol (loan) 16 Appearances, 5 goals
2013– Liverpool 89 Appearances, 13 goals

National team2009: Brazil U17 5 Appearances, 2 goals
2011–2012 Brazil U20 7 Appearances, 3 goals
2010– Brazil 5 Appearances, 0 goals

It’s been quite a start to 2015 for Philippe Coutinho. After agreeing a new five-and-a-half year deal with Liverpool in February, he curled home a last-minute winner in their FA Cup replay against Bolton the very next day. Exactly one month on and there have been further outrageous strikes to help see off both Southampton and Premier League champions Manchester City.

After struggling to hit it off with lone forward Rickie Lambert when used as a more traditional No.10, the opportunity to pick up pockets of space in the left channel has been one he’s relished. With the fluidity of movement back in Liverpool’s game, Coutinho has come into his own. The through-balls are flowing now. He’s made more than twice as many of them as any team-mate and although Sterling has more assists, it’s Coutinho who has created more clear chances. Like his Liverpool colleague, he ranks among the top five dribblers in the Premier League, with a better completion rate than the England man. He’s become a key weapon for his team. Of course, it takes time to become an overnight success and for Coutinho that hard work has long been a feature of his game. It’s been evident when asked to occupy a deeper role that his enthusiasm for the dirty work is not typical of what might be expected of a player who is ostensibly a Brazilian playmaker with the No 10 on his back.

Coutinho began his career at one of Rio de Janeiro's biggest clubs, Vasco da Gama. His talent was evident from an early age, with comparisons being made in his homeland to several of Brazil's modern stars - including Kaka and Ronaldinho - due to the attacking midfielder's deft touch and creativity. Alerted to his potential at 16 years old, Europe's heavyweight clubs battled for his signature and it was Italian giants Inter Milan who won the race to conclude a transfer worth around €4million in 2008. Due to Italian rules, Coutinho was ineligible for his new club until his 18th birthday so remained at Vasco to continue his education. In 2009, he helped Brazil's U17 side claim South American spoils, scoring in the final against Argentina. Coutinho appeared for Vasco on 43 occasions in total, netting five goals, before his transfer to Inter - then managed by former Reds boss Rafa Benitez - was completed in the summer of 2010. Capable of playing in any forward position, Coutinho was regularly used in a wide role by Inter Milan - making his debut in the Uefa Super Cup and racking up 20 games and a single goal in 2010-11. The Brazilian enjoyed international success in 2011, featuring in all seven matches and finding the target three times as the U20 side lifted the U20 World Cup in Colombia. Injuries would hamper the midfielder's progress into the Inter first team, with just eight appearances the following season before the Italians loaned Coutinho to Spanish outfit Espanyol for the second half of 2011-12. Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino was the man who took him to Espanyol on loan from Inter on the advice of his right-hand man Ramon Planes and the player responded with five goals in 16 appearances as he settled quickly in Barcelona before returning to Inter with a first-team spot in his sights. Then after weeks of speculation regarding his future, the 21-year-old completed a move to Anfield in January 2013 as Brendan Rodgers further honed his Liverpool forward options.

Aside from the magic that he has, he also has an amazing work rate and that makes us doubt whether he fits the mould of a typical Brazilian player or a European one, because his work ethic is outstanding. Perhaps the surprising blend of qualities that Coutinho now possesses can be explained by the fact that the Brazil international has been exposed to Europe’s three major leagues before turning 21. The old mantra that England is physical, Spain is technical and Italy is tactical would suggest he’s had a unique opportunity to learn and it was a Spaniard well-known to Liverpool who helped him mature during his time in Italy.

After being under the radar for some time – arguably the least heralded player among Liverpool’s front six on their truncated charge towards the title last season – Coutinho now finds himself firmly in the spotlight. Indulging in what Lallana called “his own goal of the month competition” will do that and Rodgers is ambitious enough to now want more from the man he signed two years ago. Having played in Spain, Italy and England before his 21st birthday, it's been a unique education That’s easy to say but can be trickier to do. And yet, what seems apparent is that although it might have felt like Coutinho’s progress has been staccato-like in its nature, this is a quick learner. He’s adapted his approach to succeed in Europe and then developed further to impress in a number of positions in England. If Rodgers wants goals, Coutinho will find a way. The rise of Coutinho is surely not be over yet.