Kaka replaces Coutinho in Brazil squad

The Liverpool attacker’s injury versus Everton on Sunday has seen Dunga replace him with the former AC Milan and Real Madrid midfielder

Philippe Coutinho has been ruled out of Brazil’s two World Cup qualifying fixtures and replaced by veteran Kaka, the Brazil’s football association (CBF) has announced.

Details of Coutinho’s injury were not disclosed after the Liverpool playmaker completed 90 minutes in Sunday’s 1-1 Premier League draw at Everton.

Coutinho’s absence, though, has paved the way for Kaka to return to Brazil.

Orlando City midfielder Kaka featured in Brazil’s international friendlies against Costa Rica and United States last month, but the 33-year-old was overlooked by Dunga for World Cup qualifiers against Chile and Venezuela.

Brazil will kick-off their road to Russia 2018 at Copa America champions Chile in Santiago on Thursday, before they return home to host Venezuela in Fortaleza five days later. 

Coutinho: Liverpool are missing Gerrard and Suarez

The Brazilian reveals the departure of the duo left a hole the club have struggled to plug since, but is still optimistic they can get back to winning ways

Philippe Coutinho believes the departures of Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez have hurt Liverpool as they struggle to mount a title challenge this season.

Reds’ icon Gerrard decided to leave Anfield at the end of last season to continue his career at LA Galaxy while Suarez departed for Barcelona a year earlier.

And Coutinho, who joined Liverpool in January 2013 and came close to winning the Premier League title in his second season at the club, has admitted the duo are sorely missed as the club aim to end their wait for silverware .

“Gerrard is an icon, one of my personal football heroes,” Coutinho told The Telegraph

“He is strongly missed by the fans and the players as well. But it’s a different time in the club’s life now and we have to adapt to it and we have to do our best.”

“It was difficult, obviously – the fact that we didn’t win the league [in 2014],” the Brazilian added. “There was the frustration at not having won the title and then unfortunately last year we didn’t start quite well, as well as expected, and we lost a few players.

“We lost Suarez. So it was tricky for Liverpool but we are trying to do our best and are working for moments like that, to reach that point again.

“And I think it’s possible. We are trying our best to get back, to qualify for the Champions League and whatever else there might be. We want to achieve great things here at Liverpool.”

One of Liverpool’s most-prized asesets, Coutinho had declared his immediate future was at Anfield amidst rumours he could follow Suarez to Barcelona.

Coutinho rules out leaving Liverpool to join Neymar at Barcelona

The Reds’ star simply wants to do well at Anfield, beginning from Sunday’s Merseyside derby against Everton

Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho states he appreciated Barcelona counterpart Neymar’s comment he would be a success at Camp Nou, but states he is totally focused on doing well with his current club.

Neymar told reporters in September that his compatriot would be a coup for the Catalans after days of reports they were eyeing a bid for the Anfield star.

But though Coutinho revealed his gratefulness to his fellow Selecao star, the 23-year-old reiterated his loyalty to Liverpool, and intends to stay there for the forseeable future to achieve success with Brendan Rodgers side.

“I heard what Neymar said on the internet but I want to do well with Liverpool,” he told Daily Star.

“I am happy here and I hope this season will go well for us. Of course it is a nice thing he [Neymar] said. Everyone knows he’s my friend.

“But I’m here and focused on Liverpool to help them do good things on the pitch, starting with beating Everton on Sunday.”

Rodgers was subjected to jeers from the Kop following Liverpool’s 1-1 Europa League draw with Sion in midweek, and Coutinho is aware that a win in the Merseyside derby will be crucial to bringing fans back on their side after a lacklustre start to the season.

“It is a big match because our start to the season has not been good. But we won the last league game against Aston Villa and it’s important that we keep that winning feeling going.”

“We know we have to play better but it is still the beginning of a long season and we are calm. I don’t listen much to the bad things. We are focused on the pitch to do well and do good things. I am totally focused on Liverpool.”

David Luiz: Coutinho could leave Liverpool

The former Chelsea defender believes the playmaker could leave Anfield and insists the midfielder is the best in England this season

Paris Saint-Germain defender David Luiz believes his Brazil team-mate Philippe Coutinho will leave Liverpool at the end of the season if they do not qualify for the Champions League.

The attacking midfielder has developed into one of Liverpool’s star players since joining the club from Inter in January 2013 and has been linked with clubs such as Barcelona and Real Madrid in recent months following his sublime performances at Anfield.

The 23-year-old opted against a move away from Liverpool ahead of the 2015-16 campaign, but his compatriot expects him to leave if they again fail to qualify for Europe’s elite club competition.

“Coutinho made the choice to stay at Liverpool without Champions League football this season. I don’t think he will make that choice again,” David Luiz was quoted as telling the Sunday Express.

“The best need to be playing with the best. Coutinho is the best midfielder in England right now. That is great for him, but when you play at that level the big clubs will notice you.

“If Liverpool don’t qualify this season for the Champions League, I am sure he will be the most in-demand player in Europe next summer.”

Coutinho has a contract with Liverpool until June 2020.

Neymar: Coutinho would be a perfect fit at Barcelona

The Brazil captain says he believes his international colleague would be a huge success if he joined the reigning European champions at Camp Nou

Neymar believes international Brazil team-mate Philippe Coutinho would be a perfect fit for Barcelona.

Liverpool star Coutinho is being increasingly linked with a possible move to Spain, with former team-mate Steven Gerrard saying earlier this month that he thought the Brazil international was destined for La Liga.

And Barca star Neymar says he would love to see his international colleague at Camp Nou.

“I see many Brazilian players with quality today. But one I like and think could play here is Coutinho. He has the style of Barcelona,” said Neymar as he was officially announced as Gillette’s brand ambassador for Latin America.

Coutinho and Neymar are great friends and represented Brazil together at youth level.

Neymar came off the bench to score twice in Brazil’s Chevrolet Brasil Global Tour 4-1 victory over USA earlier this month and is still hoping to return to the national team for next month’s World Cup qualifiers with Chile and Venezuela despite currently being ruled out through suspension.

Brazil are awaiting the outcome of an appeal to CAS to overturn his four-match suspension incurred at June’s Copa America, but, regardless, Neymar said he has learned from the experience.

“Since the ban in the Copa America I have learned the lesson of not getting involved in silly arguments. I made a mistake and I have to make sure it does not happen again,” he said.

Speaking of his new partnership with Gillette, Neymar added: “I have always liked looking after myself and creating new styles for myself. It’s something that gives me confidence, and prepares me for challenges on and off the field.

“Gillette is a brand that is known for its precision and always looks for the best, something that I look for in my game. I feel honoured to be part of the Gillette team that has historically brought the greats from this sport together.”

Julian Moretti, Gillette marketing manager in Brazil expressed the company’s delight at securing the Selecao captain as the face of the company.

“We believe that precision makes us better every day. It’s the philosophy that we have been following for more than 110 years to improve our products and bring innovation to our consumers,” said Moretti.

“Neymar communicates this idea in a very real and powerful way. The dedication that he has shown since a young age to improve is something that we can identify with.”

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Neymar: Coutinho has the class to play for Barcelona

The former Santos man believes his Brazil international team-mate has the quality to follow Luis Suarez from Anfield to Camp Nou

Neymar believes Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho has the quality to play for Barcelona.

Reports in Spain on Monday suggested Barca were eyeing a potential move for Coutinho, who has become one of Liverpool’s most prized assets since joining from Inter in January 2013.

The 23-year-old has been one of his team’s more impressive performers in a disappointing start to the Premier League season, and Barca man Neymar feels his fellow Brazilian has all the attributes to follow Luis Suarez in swapping Anfield for Camp Nou.

“There’s a lot of Brazilian players that could be playing for Barcelona,” explained Neymar.

“One of them is Philippe Coutinho. He’s a great player and he has Barcelona’s style.”

Neymar has formed part of a lethal attacking line alongside Suarez and Lionel Messi at Barca, with the trio inspiring the club to the treble last term with a staggering combined total of 122 goals.

Despite seeing his start to the season affected by mumps, Neymar has scored in his last two La Liga games and he is eager to help keep their various title defences on track.

“I don’t know if I’m going to be the top scorer. What I look for in every season is to get better,” he added. 

“Last season was fantastic for us, we’ve won a lot of titles and I scored a lot. 

“So, this season I want to be better and to score more to help my team-mates and the team. First we have to think in the group, and then the individual results come naturally.”

Oscar returns to Brazil squad with Neymar missing

The Chelsea midfielder joins Liverpool’s Philippe Countinho in the 23-man squad that will face Chile and Venezuela in October’s World Cup qualifiers

Chelsea midfielder Oscar will return to the Brazil squad for the October’s World Cup qualifiers, but former World Player of the Year Kaka has failed to make a squad that will also be missing captain Neymar.

Brazil begin their qualification campaign for Russia 2018 with a trip to Santiago to face reigning South American champions Chile before hosting Venezuela.

Barcelona forward Neymar is suspended for both matches after receiving a red card in Brazil’s Copa America group stage defeat to Colombia in June.

Midfielder Oscar has not appeared for his country since pulling out June’s Copa America squad through injury.

Orlando City star Kaka made a shock return to the Selecao for this month’s Chevrolet Brasil Global Tour victories over Costa Rica and USA, but has been left out in the cold despite Dunga’s insistence on brining more experience to the group.

Liverpool’s Philippe Countinho is back in the squad proper after he was originally left out of the group that travelled to the USA earlier this month, earning a return only after Oscar forced to withdraw because of fitness issues.

Filipe Luis, who also missed September’s squad through injury, is back at the expense of Atletico Mineiro’s Douglas Santos.

Bayern Munich full-back Rafinha returns to the international scence for the first time since March 2014, while Corinthians defender Gil come in to replace Arsenal’s Gabriel Paulista. Gil’s club-mate, Renato Augusto, has made the Selecao for the first time since 2011.

Paris Saint-German defenders David Luiz and Marquinhos were also included, while Thiago Silva was once again left out in the cold.

Brazil technical coordinator Gilmar Rinaldi also confirmed that former World Cup-winner Cafu will accompany the coaching staff as guest assistant for the two international dates.

Brazil squad in full

Goalkeepers: Jefferson (Botafogo), Marcelo Grohe (Gremio), Alisson (Internacional).

Defenders: David Luiz (PSG), Miranda (Inter Milan), Marquinhos (PSG), Gil (Corinthians), Fabinho (Monaco), Rafinha (Bayern Munich), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid), Marcelo (Real Madrid).

Midfielders: Luiz Gustavo (Wolfsburg), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Elias (Corinthians), Renato Augusto (Corinthians), Douglas Costa (Bayern Munich), Lucas Lima (Santos), Lucas Moura (PSG), Willian (Chelsea), Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), Oscar (Chelsea).

Forwards: Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Hulk (Zenit).

Pressure is building on Liverpool, admits Coutinho

The Reds have suffered consecutive defeats in the Premier League, to West Ham and Manchester United, and the Brazilian insists that his side must bounce back quickly

Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho admits the pressure on the club is building following their disappointing recent form.

Brendan Rodgers’ side followed a shock 3-0 home defeat to West Ham with a 3-1 loss to fierce rivals Manchester United at the weekend.

And Coutinho – who missed the United game through suspension – is aware of the importance of bouncing back quickly, starting with the Europa League clash with Bordeaux on Thursday.

“It’s a very important game as it’s our first in the Europa League,” he told Liverpool’s official website.

“We know how important it is to have a good start in a competition like this and everyone’s focused on doing well in this game.

“After two consecutive defeats, we’re conscious there’s going to be more pressure from the outside – we have to do things right on the pitch so we can achieve good results.”

Despite having earned just seven points from their opening five league games, Coutinho insists it is far too early to begin writing off Liverpool’s season in its entirety.

“It is vital to stay calm, mainly because we are just at the beginning in all competitions,” said the Brazil international.

“We have a long season ahead and many things can happen. The Premier League is tough – all clubs have great teams – and we know twists and turns will happen.

“We have to not only remain calm but also to work hard to achieve what we want on the pitch.

“It feels bad to be out and not being available to be selected and help the team but we have to look ahead now and get over these two recent games we lost.

“There are lessons to be learned so we can move on and avoid making the same mistakes. We have a great team here and we know we can improve – and that’s what we’re trying to do right now.”

Gerrard: Barca and Real will be after Coutinho

The former Reds captain believes the Anfield club should treasure their young midfielder before he is lured away with a move to La Liga after interest from the Spanish giants

Steven Gerrard fears Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho will follow in the footsteps of Luis Suarez by moving to Barcelona or Real Madrid within a few seasons.

Coutinho has excelled since joining from Inter Milan in an £8.5million deal two years ago, earning accolade last season as Liverpool’s Player of the Year and inclusion in the PFA Team of the Year.

Yet former Reds captain Gerrard believes the 23-year-old’s progress will eventually alert La Liga’s top teams to his services, as he saw with the move of Suarez to Barcelona in July 2014.
“Philippe is wonderfully gifted and I expect him to become Liverpool’s leading player,” he wrote in his new autobiography, My Story , which is being serialised in The Daily Mail .

“Many Liverpool fans already regard him as our main man.

“He has just signed a new deal and he and his wife – who are a lovely couple – seem settled here.

“But I also know that the Spanish giants, Barcelona and Real Madrid, will come looking for Philippe in a few more seasons, just like they did with Luis.

“And that’s when it will get tricky for Liverpool because the lure to go to one of those two clubs is so strong for any South American or Spanish player.

“Until that happens, Liverpool should really treasure Philippe.”

Abject Liverpool brought back down to earth by West Ham

The Reds had gone into the game brimming with a belief after an unbeaten start to the new Premier League season but their old frailties were brutally exposed by the visitors

GOAL COMMENT   By Tom Maston

If Brendan Rodgers thought he’d stumbled upon a solution to Liverpool’s troubles last season during his opening three matches of the season, he was sorely mistaken. After being thoroughly outplayed by West Ham at Anfield, the questions over the Northern Irishman’s managerial capabilities will again be asked.

Despite their win over Arsenal on the opening day, West Ham were there for the taking. Successive home defeats to Leicester City and Bournemouth had seen Slaven Bilic’s men installed as relegation candidates and labelled as a team almost as unstable as their new boss.

However, on Merseyside, the Hammers were outstanding and left a Liverpool team that performed so admirably themselves at the Emirates with very few answers to the questions they were posed. A first win in 52 years at Anfield was their reward, and it was richly deserved.

Christian Benteke was left isolated to fight against both central defenders and James Tomkins tucking in from right-back, while Roberto Firmino – an early long-range effort against the post aside – showed little to suggest that he is ready to shine at Liverpool.

Fellow new signings Nathaniel Clyne and Joe Gomez both endured their most difficult outings for the Reds so far, but it would be unfair to blame just the summer arrivals for what occurred on the pitch against the Irons.

Dejan Lovren, whose early season form has been praised following his disastrous debut season on Merseyside, reverted to type with a showing to go down as his very worst in a red shirt. A lack of concentration allowed Manuel Lanzini to nick the ball off him to create the second goal for Mark Noble, and from there he lost all confidence in his own ability.

The Croatia international allowed balls to bounce in front of him, backed off midfield runners and saw Diafra Sakho – who was clearly still struggling after being arrested earlier in the week – get the better of him on almost every occasion.

These kinds of performances from individual players are not new to Liverpool fans. Throughout the Premier League era the displays of certain players have continually frustrated those who pass through the Shankly Gates on matchdays.

But a selected few, including Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez, have always been relied upon to lift the side and grab games by the scruff of the neck. Philippe Coutinho is the man currently tasked with that role, but even he could not inspire them towards victory.

The Brazil international shanked an early shot out towards the corner flag before seeing very little of the ball due to the close attentions of Pedro Obiang and Mark Noble. Lacking any service, the former Inter man grew understandably frustrated, though he can have no excuse for picking up a booking for dissent late in the first half.

In the end, his poor attitude led to his downfall as a late challenge on Dimitri Payet – who incidentally put in a performance for the visitors that Coutinho would have been proud of – saw him given his marching orders with more than half an hour to play by referee Kevin Friend.

Though the referee took both barrels from the home crowd following his decision, it was the correct call and one which rules Coutinho out of a trip to Old Trafford once domestic matters resume following the upcoming international break.

Rodgers will argue that a game against Manchester United is the perfect tonic for his side to put right the wrongs of this performance, but visiting the Theatre of Dreams without his best player and talisman will make his task infinitely more difficult.

A defeat to the Red Devils may well see the former Swansea boss moved back to the head of the Premier League sack race just five games in. If anyone had any doubts that his job was safe after seven points from three games, they were sorely mistaken.