'Skilful Coutinho could be perfect for the Premier League' – everything you need to know about Liverpool €13.7m signing

PROFILE
By Chris Myson & Matt Scott

Liverpool have bolstered their attacking ranks in January with the signing of Daniel Sturridge and Inter starlet Philippe Coutinho, who officially signed for the Anfield club on Wednesday afternoon.

Coutinho came through the youth system of Brazilian heavyweights Vasco da Gama, a club he initially joined at just seven years of age.

Before he even made his debut for the club, the playmaker was already making waves. His exceptional performances in the youth team and internationally for Brazil under-16 and 17s ensured he was quickly developing an impressive reputation.

Real Madrid were amongst the big European clubs who circled for his signature, although it was Inter who eventually won the race, paying 4.2 million euros for the then 16-year-old in 2008.

COURTING COUTINHO

PHILIPPE COUTINHO FACTS
AGE
CAREER APPS
CAREER GOALS
TRANSFER FEES
BRAZIL DEBUT
20
96
15
£3.4m
v Iran Oct 7 2010

The Serie A club allowed him to stay with Vasco da Gama on loan until he turned 18 in 2010, when they made his transfer official and brought him to San Siro.

By that point he had played over two seasons for the first team at his boyhood club, in the second campaign becoming a regular and important contributor to the side.

He spent an initial 18 months in and around the Inter squad, making his debut in the Uefa Super Cup defeat to Atletico Madrid, although he never really established himself as a first-team regular.

“Coutinho has always impressed with his technical qualities, but he’s always been considered too inexperienced to make a real mark during his time in Italian football,” explains Goal.com Italy’s Maurizio Piano.

“That means a lot of his most brilliant performances have come during friendly matches in pre-season. In senior games, he didn’t get picked to play too often and, when he did, it tended to be from the substitutes’ bench.”

For the second half of the 2011-12 season, Coutinho was loaned to La Liga outfit Espanyol and he impressed under Mauricio Pochettino, now manager of Southampton.

He played 16 matches as he helped the Catalan side to a mid-table finish and scored five times, two of which were particularly spectacular efforts –a  free-kick against Malaga and a volley against Racing Santander.

Since returning from Spain, Coutinho would have hoped to improve his fortunes with Inter on the back of the confidence gained in La Liga, but most recently, an injury has also hindered his progress as he tries to force his way into the team.

Now, despite the player’s stated wish to remain at Inter, it seems the club are determined to move him on, as they have done with Wesley Sneijder, to raise funds for new pursuits in the market.

Maurizio added: “Coutinho has never really been seen as a certain starter for Inter. Now, the Nerazzurri need money to try and buy Paulinho from Corinthians.

“Just like Ricky Alvarez, Coutinho is seen as one of the expendable players Inter are prepared to sell in order to raise money that allows them to buy in this transfer window.”

The Reds have been in the market for an attacking midfielder this month after allowing Nuri Sahin to leave Merseyside and rejoin his former club Dortmund, the Turkey international having failed to make an impact at Anfield.

Wesley Sneijder was a Liverpool target until the Netherlands playmaker chose to leave Inter for Galatasaray.

The 28-year-old was thought to be holding out for an offer from the Premier League, but could not be persuaded to wait for an offer from Anfield and joined the Turkish giants in a €7.5 million (£6.3m) deal.

Where Sneijder is a pass-master, Coutinho is a completely different kind of player, but is not lacking the kind of creative spark that saw the Dutchman regarded so highly.

The Brazilian has often found himself lining up on the left-hand side at Inter and Espanyol, a position that has been rotated between youngsters Raheem Sterling and Suso at Anfield for much of this term.

Possessing a lightning-quick burst of speed, but typically South American close-control, Coutinho is a flair player who will not think twice when taking a man on, with a penchant for lobbing his man.

When cutting inside on to his right foot, the 20-year-old is an accurate finisher; indeed, his return of 15 goals from 96 career games is impressive for a youngster who has featured in a wide role in most of those appearances.

With the teenaged Sterling feeling signs of burn-out after a whirlwind introduction to the Premier League, and Suso seeming to lack the speed required for the top-flight, Coutinho could be a happy medium between the two.

Maurizio certainly feels he could be a success story at Anfield if the deal goes ahead, saying: “Even if at Inter he has been used at times as a midfielder, he really is more like an attacking midfielder or even outright attacker.

“He may not be particularly physically strong but he is certainly fast and agile. He has good vision, strong dribbling skills and can certainly be a prolific creator of chances. I think he could do well in the Premier League, since he is quick and has great skills.”

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Liverpool complete €13.7 million Coutinho signing

Liverpool have completed the signing of 20-year-old Inter midfielder Philippe Coutinho.

The Brazil international joined the Serie A side from Vasco da Gama in 2010, and spent the second half of last season on loan at Spanish side Espanyol.
The Premier League side agreed an €13.7 million transfer fee with Inter after seeing their initial bid of €7.5m rejected.

Coutinho becomes the Reds’ second signing of the January transfer window after the move to sign Daniel Sturridge, with only one day remaining to complete any other deals.

Southampton were also interested in the playmaker following his work with new Saints boss Mauricio Pochettino at Espanyol, but Coutinho made his preference to sign for Liverpool clear.

Everton hopeful of completing compromised Leroy Fer deal

By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent

Everton remain in talks to sign Leroy Fer and are hopeful of completing a re-structured deal before the window shuts, Goal.com understands.

The transfer hit a major hurdle on Tuesday when the Dutch international’s medical revealed a problem with his knee.

But sources insist the deal has not fallen through and the Merseysiders are still in negotiations with FC Twente about a compromised agreement.

Everton announced on their website on Monday that they had agreed an £8.6 million deal to sign the 23-year-old midfielder.

But the discovery on Tuesday that Fer had suffered serious knee damage while on international duty last September prompted the Premier League club to re-negotiate the terms of the deal.

Everton want to re-structure the agreement, which would allow some of the fee to be paid based upon appearances in case there is a recurrence of the injury.

However, the Dutch club have taken a belligerent public stance, with their chairman Joop Munsterman telling journalists in Holland that Twente did not agree with Everton’s compromised deal. “They can come up with any demand they wish but we’re not playing along with their demands,” he said.

Everton are ready to give Twente a deadline to reach an agreement in order to allow themselves time to secure a replacement.

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Wenger impressed by 'robust' Arsenal summer signings

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed he could not be happier with the way in which summer signings Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Carzola have adapted to the Premier League.

The trio have put tin a string of impressive performances for the Gunners since joining from the Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and La Liga respectively.

And the Frenchman has admitted that the ease with which they have settled in has surprised even him.

“It’s a big surprise [how robust they have been],” the manager told Arsenal Player. “Especially Cazorla.

“He has played more than anybody else since the start of the season and he was the one I absolutely had to rest [against Brighton] because he had played almost all the games.

“I’m happy he got a little breather and I’m certain we’ll have to do that again at some time, but overall they are very robust and all three have adapted very well to the Premier League.”

The 63 year-old also claimed that he is expecting a strong finish from the north London side thanks to a largely injury-free squad.

“I have never been in this situation in January, with so many players available or so few injured,” he said.” So touch wood, let’s hope it continues.

“Is it down to better prevention, is it down to being managed better in the rotation of players? I don’t know, but overall the situation is good.”

Arsenal don't need David Villa to finish in top four, insists Parlour

Arsenal’s hopes of finishing on the top four do not hinge on whether they are able to sign Barcelona striker David Villa before Thursday’s transfer deadline, according to club legend Ray Parlour.

Arsene Wenger’s side go into Wednesday’s crucial meeting with fellow Champions League aspirants Liverpool four points adrift of fourth-placed Spurs.

Despite the Spanish side’s insistence that the former Valencia man is not for sale, the Gunners continue to be heavily linked with a deadline day move for the 31-year-old.

Parlour, however, a  vital member of Wenger’s last title-winning side in 2004, believes that the recent form of summer recruit Olivier Giroud, who has scored four goals in his last two games, means that a failure to secure Villa’s services would not represent a terminal blow to his old side’s ambitions.

“I really thought he might go and strengthen, at least bring in one player in, but it appears David Villa didn’t want to come to Arsenal,” he told talkSPORT

“I’m sure the scouting system is working hard to find players for Arsene Wenger, but nothing has fit the bill.

“It looks like he’s not going to buy anyone at the moment and he’ll have to go until the end of the season with the squad he’s got.

“If Olivier Giroud can bang a few goals in then he can fire them into fourth place.”