Coutinho relishing Firmino link-up at Liverpool

The Anfield star believes his countryman’s talent and eye for goal will make him a real asset on Merseyside as Brendan Rodgers hopes to get his squad back into the top four

Philippe Coutinho believes Brazil team-mate Roberto Firmino will be a a big success alongside him at Liverpool next season.

Firmino completed a move to Anfield in a deal rising to £28 million on Wednesday after an impressive season with Hoffenheim that saw him notch seven goals and 10 assists in 33 Bundesliga appearances.

And Coutinho – who is currently playing alongside Firmino for Brazil at the Copa America – is confident his countryman will light up the Premier League.

“I think it is great news,” he told Liverpool’s official website. ”Firmino is a great player and obviously I know him from the Brazilian national team. He is a great character and person.

“He is strong physically, he is fast, agile, very skilful on the ball and he scores a lot of goals – he is a great forward. I am sure he will be of great help to us next season.

“After hearing the news, I said to him ‘welcome to Liverpool’ and I have told him that he will be coming into a club that is like a family – I made sure to tell him that. I have also wished him a great and very successful first season at Liverpool.

“I’m very much looking forward to playing and starting the new season alongside Firmino at Liverpool. I am looking forward to not only playing for Liverpool again, but trying to help us get into a position to win trophies.

“As I said, I am very happy he has signed for Liverpool – but not only him, all of the other signings we’ve made recently as well. I’m sure all of these new players are coming in to make our team even stronger for the new season.

“I can’t wait to start the Premier League season. I am very hopeful things will go well for us on the pitch this season.”


06 2015
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Coutinho & Firmino makes Liverpool's midfield one of Europe's most exciting – Ronaldinho

The World Cup winner says it is a “big achievement” for the Reds to have brought the pair together, believing the duo can lead the Anfield outfit back into the Champions League

Ronaldinho believes Philippe Coutinho and new signing Roberto Firmino give Liverpool “one of the most exciting midfields in Europe”.

The Brazil international, who is currently at the Copa America with his new domestic team-mate, was confirmed as Brendan Rodgers’s fifth summer signing for a deal worth up to £28 million (€41m) on Wednesday.

Firmino scored 10 goals and provided a further 12 assists for Hoffenheim last season, with Coutinho boasting nine and five respectively, and Ronaldinho feels the 23-year-old’s arrival is a “sign of intent” by Liverpool.

“For Liverpool to have Coutinho and Firmino is a big achievement for them,” Ronaldinho is quoted as saying by The Mirror. “It is going to give them one of the most exciting midfields in Europe.

“The creativity, intelligence and goals they have between them can change Liverpool as a team. It is a big sign of intent. Those two in midfield gives them a big chance to qualify for the Champions League next season.

“It is a dream for the Liverpool strikers to have that sort of service. If you can’t score goals in a team with Coutinho and Firmino in midfield then you won’t score goals in any team. They will create so many chances.”

Rodgers has wasted no time in strengthening his squad following last season’s disappointing fifth-placed finish and Steven Gerrard’s exit, also adding James Milner, Danny Ings, Adam Bogdan and Joe Gomez to his ranks.


06 2015
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Brazil – Venezuela Preview: Selecao must make do without Neymar

For the second time in 12 months, Dunga’s men face a crucial test at a major tournament without their star man, who has been suspended

Brazil face a crunch Copa America clash in Sunday’s Group C meeting with Venezuela, and they do so without star forward Neymar.

The Barcelona man has been handed a four-match suspension following his red card at the end of Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat to Colombia.

After the final whistle had been blown, Neymar appeared to kick the ball in the direction of Pablo Armero before attempting to headbutt Jeison Murillo.

It is the second time in 12 months that Brazil head into a crucial fixture at a major tournament without their talisman.

At the World Cup on home soil last year, Neymar suffered a back injury in the quarter-final win over Colombia, and was ruled out of the last-four clash with Germany, where the hosts suffered a humiliating 7-1 thrashing.

​The ban rules him out of the rest of the Copa, even if Brazil make the final, but first Dunga’s men must focus on qualifying from their group.

Wednesday’s defeat, coupled with Venezuela’s 1-0 loss to Peru, means all four sides are tied on three points heading into the final round of action.

Philippe Coutinho, fresh from stunning individual displays for Liverpool this season, is being tipped to replace Neymar in the starting line-up, and the diminutive playmaker insists he is up to the task.

“I’m ready. Neymar is our main player, but I’m ready to play,” he said.

Meanwhile, Venezuela have their own suspension to contend with after defender Fernando Amorebieta was sent off for stamping on Peru’s Paulo Guerrero.

Amorebieta – likely to be replaced by Gabriel Cichero - took the blame for the defeat afterwards, and head coach Noel Sanvicente says his players are happy to come into Sunday’s meeting in Santiago as underdogs.

“We knew that this group was quite difficult, but we must move fast from the defeat because it is Brazil,” he said.

“We’re going with a defeat, but we have the match against a favourite and that motivates us.

“We know what Brazil are, and without Neymar, we have the team to win.”

The last two meetings between these sides have ended goalless, with their most recent clash coming in the group stage of this tournament four years ago.

Venezuela went on to finish fourth in 2011, while Brazil’s challenge ended at the quarter-final stage – a disappointing conclusion after winning four of the five editions prior to that.


06 2015
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Brazil can overcome Neymar loss – Coutinho

The Liverpool man thinks that the Selecao can still advance to the quarter-finals despite having their captain suspended for their final group outing

Philippe Coutinho believes that Brazil can reach the knockout stages of Copa America 2015 even though Neymar will miss their final Group C fixture against Venezuela due to suspension.

The Selecao captain was shown a red card late on in their 1-0 defeat to Colombia on Wednesday – ending a run of 11 straight victories – and has provisionally been banned for one game.

Coutinho missed that match after picking up a thigh injury in the friendly win over Honduras before the competition in Chile began.

Yet despite the absence of their talisman for their next outing, the Liverpool forward believes that the Brazil team will unite to overcome the loss – though he is unsure whether he will be the man to replace him.

“Neymar is a great player, our main man, but everyone is prepared and focused on what we want,” Coutinho said in a press conference.

“We lost our main player, but the group is strong. We are focused to overcome the loss of Neymar in the next game.

“I do not know if I’m going to play. I believe that everyone is prepared.”It depends on the coach. I am prepared and I will do my best to help the team come away with the victory. We have great players in the Selecao – creative, fast and smart.

“The most important thing is the team. Whoever plays has to get the job done.”

Fernandinho admitted that losing Neymar to a back injury at World Cup 2014 was different to it happening on this occasion, but backed Coutinho to be a capable deputy.

“This time it is different [to the World Cup]. That time it was due to injury, it hurt everyone. Now it’s different, it’s a suspension from a card. But I am particularly calm,” he told reporters.

“In the case that Coutinho replaces him, he is ready. He is one of the best players of Liverpool and has done well for the Seleção. We will be represented well.

“With or without Neymar we try to play fast football, attacking down the wings.”Some think we play for Neymar, but our intention is to involve all of the attack in the game.”

Brazil take on La Vinotinto in their final Group C fixture on Sunday with all four teams in the pool joined on four points.

Coutinho feels they will still make the latter stages of what he considers to be one of the toughest editions of the Copa America.

“The information we have is that they are a team that plays tactically strong. But in the coming days we will watch videos and talk about the opponent,” he added.

“We had a good sequence of victories before the Copa América. It’s a complicated competition but we are in shape to advance from this phase.

“Nowadays football doesn’t have any easy teams. Every game is difficult and teams come prepared. [This is] one of the most difficult Copa Americas.”


06 2015
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Coutinho sets sights on Copa America glory

The Liverpool man capped just his second start for his country with a fine solo strike in Brazil’s victory over Mexico and is ready to star in Chile

Philippe Coutinho has set his sights on helping Brazil to Copa America glory this month, regardless of whether he plays.

The Liverpool attacker has had to settle for a cameo role under coach Dunga, but made his claim for a starting berth on Sunday as he hit Brazil’s opener in their 2-0 victory over Mexico.

With Chlesea’s Oscar absent this month due to injury, Coutinho is now favourite to break into the first team in Chile but insists the entire squad will have a part to play.

“It is a great opportunity not only for me, but for the whole group,” Coutinho said. 

“The Copa America is a great competition. We are focused, no matter who plays. Our only concern is to get there in good form and win the tournament.

“Everyone is fighting for a place, which is very important. We are always seeking the best.”

Coutinho opened the scoring with a fine solo effort in Sao Paulo, before Diego Tardelli rounded off victory in Brazil’s first match on home soil since last year’s World Cup.

“I am very happy with my goal,” Coutinho continued.  

“When I received the ball, I saw the defender coming and just turned, without even touching the ball. Once at the byline, I imagined that the goalkeeper would dive so I tried the shot.”

The 22-year-old is now hoping to retain his place in the side for Wednesday’s Chevrolet Brasil Global Tour friendly with Honduras, which will be the Selecao’s final warm-up match before heading to Chile.


06 2015
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Di Maria's lob against Leicester City voted as Premier League's goal of the season

The Manchester United winger came out on top against Philippe Coutinho’s strike against Southampton in the final round of voting on the Premier League’s official Twitter page

Angel Di Maria’s scooped lob in Manchester United’s 5-3 defeat to Leicester City has been voted as the Premier League’s best goal of the season.

The Argentine’s effort topped the poll ahead of Philippe Coutinho’s strike against Southampton in the final round of voting on the Premier League’s official Twitter page.

To get to the final, Di Maria’s goal won the vote ahead of Jermain Defoe’s strike against Newcastle United and Charlie Adam’s effort inside his own half against Chelsea.

GOAL CUP And the 2014/15 Goal Cup winner is…

— Premier League (@premierleague) June 5, 2015

Di Maria struggled in his debut season at United after joining from Real Madrid for a British record fee of €75 million last summer but has insisted that he intends to stay at Old Trafford this summer.

“I have just finished my first season playing for Manchester United,” he told The Sun.

“It was a hard season for me. I think it was hard because it was another country and another league, and this league is harder than the Spanish one. So, I couldn’t adapt myself as I wanted to.

“Now I will play the Copa America and then I will move back to Manchester for next season and do my best there.”

A huge THANK YOU to the thousands who voted in the 2014/15 Goal Cup – take one more look at #GoalCupDiMaria…

— Premier League (@premierleague) June 5, 2015

Di Maria is currently training with the Argentina national side ahead of the Copa America this summer, with Gerardo Martino’s men to face Bolivia in a warm-up game on Saturday.


06 2015
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Ronaldinho: Coutinho would be a perfect fit for Barcelona

The World Cup-winning former Selecao star feels that the Liverpool man has all the right qualities to slot into the midfield at Camp Nou

Ronaldinho believes that Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho would fit in perfectly at Barcelona.

The Brazil international Coutinho has enjoyed a thoroughly impressive season at Anfield, earning a spot in the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) Team of the Year while also being voted as the club’s Player of the Season.

And two-time World Player of the Year Ronaldinho - who won two Liga titles and a Champions League trophy during his time with Barcelona – feels Coutinho would be a great addition for the club, with Xavi heading for the exit this summer and Andres Iniesta heading into the latter stages of his career.

“He has had a fantastic season,” Ronaldinho told The Daily Mail. “He has been one of the best midfield players in Europe. When you realise that he has been playing in a team that has not been performing well, that is an even bigger achievement.

“I can’t speak for him and I can’t speak for Barcelona, but I know what they look for in a player and he has all those qualities.

“After all those years at the club, Xavi has left and Iniesta is now in his 30′s – they will need to address that. That is why I think Barcelona and Coutinho would be the perfect fit.

“Playing with great players makes you better, I know that. Not only would he win trophies with Barca, but playing with Neymar, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Iniesta is going to make him a better player.”

Coutinho has been included in Dunga’s 23-man Brazil squad for the Copa America and their first game is against Peru in Temuco on June 14.


05 2015
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Watch Ozil & Messi in action for Gatorade!

ADVERTORIAL: The Arsenal and Barcelona stars feature alongside their team-mates and the likes of Andrea Pirlo and Philippe Coutinho in the sports drink company’s spectacular film

Arsenal star Mesut Ozil and Barcelona forward Lionel Messi are among the players to feature in a spectacular new Gatorade film.

The duo take to the field with team-mates including Santi Cazorla, Joel Campbell, Pedro, Xavi and Jordi Alba to show off their skills.

Gatorade are the official sports drink providers of both clubs, as well as the likes of Liverpool and Juventus.

Also featured in the video is Philippe Coutinho, who stars alongside Reds team-mates Lazar Markovic and Javi Manquillo, and Juve playmaker Andrea Pirlo, who is joined by Angelo Ogbonna and Martin Caceres.

After some sensational passing, dribbling and tackling, one player hits the back of the net. Watch the video in full above to find out who!


05 2015
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Chelsea's Eden Hazard named PFA Player of the Year

The Belgium winger has inspired the Blues to what will surely be their fifth English top-flight title and beats off competition from David De Gea and Harry Kane, among others

Chelsea winger Eden Hazard has been named the PFA Player of the Year, beating stiff competition from Manchester United’s David De Gea and Tottenham’s Harry Kane.

Hazard has played a pivotal role in Chelsea’s march to the Premier League title this season, scoring 13 goals and laying on eight assists.

While some of his team-mates have fallen out of form in 2015 – suficiently so, in the case of Cesc Fabregas, to fall out of the PFA Team of the Year – Hazard has maintained the high level of form which he showed in the first half of the campaign.

Last weekend he scored the decisive goal against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge, which finally killed off Louis van Gaal’s faint hopes of winning the title, which came a week after laying on a late, important winner for Fabregas at Queens Park Rangers.

His eye-catching skills and important goals have given him the edge over his Premier League colleagues, including De Gea and Kane.

The United goalkeeper has been crucial to his team’s progression this season, particularly in the early months when he made a number of spectacular saves to help bail out a creaky defence as Van Gaal experimented with the team he inherited from David Moyes.

Tottenham striker Kane provided the most impressive competition for Hazard. The 21-year-old has scored 30 goals – 20 in the Premier League – in a stunning breakthrough season at White Hart Lane.

The Englishman has been a central member of Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs project and he earned his first international call-up earlier this season as a result.

Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho, Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez and Chelsea striker Diego Costa, who has been hampered by injuries and suspensions in 2015, were also nominated for the award.

GOALSIX OF THE BEST  Chelsea dominate the PFA Team of the Year


04 2015
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Tottenham striker Harry Kane named PFA Young Player of the Year

The Spurs striker has scored 20 league goals so far this season – 30 in all competitions – to see off comeptition from Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Manchester United’s David De Gea

Tottenham striker Harry Kane has been named the PFA Young Player of the Year, seeing off the challenge of Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, who has won the main award.

Kane has scored 20 Premier League goals in a stunning breakthrough season at White Hart Lane and beating Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho, who came second and third.

Having struggled to feature in the early months of the campaign under Mauricio Pochettino, Kane scored his first league goal at the start of November and has in fact reached his tally of 20 in just 25 matches.

The 21-year-old has scored 30 in all competitions for his club, and another one on his England debut just 79 seconds after coming off the bench against Lithuania at the end of March.

Last weekend he became the first Tottenham player since Gary Lineker in 1991-92 to score 30 goals in all competitions, and became the fourth Spurs man, alongside Teddy Sheringham, Gareth Bale and Jurgen Klinsmann, to hit 20 in a single Premier League season.

He also became the third man in history to score 20 league goals at the age of 21 or under, joining Chris Sutton and Robbie Fowler.

Those feats saw him installed as the early favourite to be named the best youngster in the division by his peers, and he has successfully overcome challenges from Hazard, Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho and Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea, who were all also nominated for the senior award.

Another Liverpool forward, Raheem Sterling, and Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois made up the six-man shortlist.


04 2015
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