'He's missing consistency' – Klopp aware Coutinho yet to rediscover best form at Liverpool

The Reds boss acknowledges that his Brazilian playmaker is still short of his early-season standards after working his way back from injury

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is aware that Philippe Coutinho is yet to find the consistency in his game which made him such a threat over the early part of the season.

As the Reds enjoyed a productive first half of the 2016-17 Premier League campaign, their Brazilian playmaker was at the centre of much of their best work.

Coutinho’s creative ability and eye for goal made him a handful for any opponent, with the target found six times in all competitions before early November.

Klopp: I respect Guardiola a lot

He was, however, to suffer an ankle injury against Sunderland which kept him out of action for the best part of two months.

Since returning to the fold in January, the 24-year-old has been unable to rekindle his talismanic spark, with one consolation effort netted in a 3-1 defeat at Leicester.

Klopp acknowledges that the key man has left room for improvement over recent weeks, but he is prepared to be patient with a prized asset and is confident that his best form can be found.

HD Jurgen Klopp Phil Coutinho

The German coach said ahead of a crunch clash with Manchester City on Sunday: “That’s the life of an outstandingly good football player like Phil.

“The influence of him on the game is really big. If he is not at 100 per cent you miss something, that’s how it is.

“But two weeks ago we played Arsenal and he did really well. Yes, Burnley again was not the best game, but he misses in this moment – which is pretty normal after a long injury – this kind of consistency.

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“But the training week so far was perfect, he presented himself really well; it was fluent, confident and looked really well.

“There are always steps in this direction. Sometimes it works. It’s about, in this moment, consistency but he is in a really good way.”

While Coutinho has not been firing on all cylinders of late, Liverpool have played their way through a new-year wobble to pick up three wins in their last four outings and keep themselves on course for Champions League qualification.

19

03 2017

Liverpool told me I'd replace Coutinho, says Marseille star Lopez

Maxime Lopez says he was wanted as a long-term successor to Philippe Coutinho at Liverpool, only to reject the club’s advances.

Rising Marseille star Maxime Lopez claims he turned down the chance to join Liverpool two seasons ago.

The 19-year-old has forced his way into Rudi Garcia’s first-team plans at Stade Velodrome this term, making 22 starts in all competitions.

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Barcelona have been linked with a move for the midfielder but he pledged his future to Marseille only last month by signing a new four-year contract.

Lopez has now said that he could have moved to Anfield in the 2014-15 campaign as a long-term replacement for Brazil star Philippe Coutinho, who was himself linked with Barca before renewing his own contract in January.

Fier d’avoir prolongé avec mon club de cœur! Merci à tous pour votre soutien! Prochain objectif: Rennes samedi!  #TeamOM  #ML27 #2021 pic.twitter.com/uq7fZdsN29

— Maxime Lopez (@lopezmaxime1) February 16, 2017

Confirming concrete interest from Liverpool he told L’Equipe: “They said to me: ‘In five years, you’ll be playing in Coutino’s spot’. They approached me in a positive way. I even met Steven Gerrard at the stadium after the game.

“I wanted to go there but I also wanted to stay at OM. Leaving like that, at that age – even with your family – is very tough. I noted that they had a squad of 30 youth players, not to mention the first-team players. You really have to be mentally prepared.”

14

03 2017

Liverpool star Coutinho has lost his magic – Redknapp

The Brazilian has scored just once in his past 13 outings and the player-turned-pundit is looking for him to step up his form in his remaining games

Jamie Redknapp believes Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho has lost some of the magic that he displayed at the start of the season, and has called for Jurgen Klopp to find a way of rekindling the Brazilian’s form.

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The Reds overturned a 1-0 deficit to claim a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Burnley on Sunday afternoon, with Coutinho being replaced by youngster Ben Woodburn in the second half.

Having hit five goals in his opening 10 appearances this season, Coutinho has scored just once in his last 13 outings, something which former Reds midfielder Redknapp believes could potentially cost the club if a solution is not found. 

“The one worry for me is Philippe Coutinho at the moment,” Redknapp told Sky Sports.

HD Jurgen Klopp Phil Coutinho

“He was on fire earlier in the season, he was the difference for Liverpool. But some of the magic has gone and he needs to get that back. That’s the manager’s job.

Why Can must convince Liverpool

“Especially at Man City where he’s had a lot of success in the last few seasons.

“That’s a bit of a worry for me because he makes such a difference. When he plays well, so do Liverpool.”

14

03 2017

Coutinho claims top-four finish, not title push, was always Liverpool's target

The Reds were in contention for the Premier League crown prior to the turn of the year, but their Brazilian is eyeing Champions League qualification

Philippe Coutinho says Liverpool’s priority this season was to secure Champions League qualification, with a title tilt considered to be a bonus.

The Reds positioned themselves in contention for the Premier League early in the 2016-17 campaign, with positive progress made to the turn of the calendar year.

Klopp: Trophies a must for Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp’s side suffered a new year hangover, though, with their season in danger of imploding at one stage.

Disappointing exits were suffered in both domestic cup competitions, while the Reds slipped off the pace set by Chelsea at the English top-flight summit.

HD Phil Coutinho

They were, however, to offer signs of encouragement against Tottenham in their most recent outing and Coutinho claims they remain well placed to reach their targets for the campaign.

“From the start, the aim was to qualify for the Champions League,” he told the club’s official website.

Liverpool won’t ‘do a Leicester’

“It is important for Liverpool to play in these competitions, fighting with the other great teams, and of course we have not given up anything.

“We expect to give great performances and to accomplish our goals.”

A 2-0 victory over Spurs has helped to repair dented confidence at Anfield, but they need to start turning things around on the road – with painful memories still fresh from a 2-0 defeat at Hull City in their last away date.

HD Liverpool Hull City

“[We can learn] that we have to be focused from the first minute,” added Coutinho.

“We were not 100 per cent focused in the Hull game. I do not know why, sometimes it happens.

Liverpool team news & likely line-up

“In the second half, we came back better but, of course, in the Premier League if a team plays a first or second half badly, it becomes complicated. 

“What we have to try to do is the same as we did in the game with Tottenham. That game should serve as an example – [we have to] play well from the first minute.”

04

03 2017

Klopp lets us do whatever we want, says Liverpool playmaker Coutinho

The Brazilian says the German coach at Anfield encourages individual freedom in his tactics, with the collective effort taking care of itself

Philippe Coutinho has hailed Jurgen Klopp’s management style at Liverpool, revealing he lets players do whatever they want.

The playmaker has paid tribute to the Anfield boss after being presented with the Samba Gold award, given to the best Brazilian player in Europe.

Coutinho named Europe’s best Brazilian

Voted for by fans and journalists as well as current and former players, Barcelona forward Neymar finished in second place for the 2016 award, with Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro coming in third position.

After Coutinho was presented with the trophy on Wednesday, he thanked Klopp.

“We work hard as a group and of course Liverpool has great players,” Coutinho said to the club’s website. “The coach demands a lot from the group.

“Everyone has been playing well this season and has done what the coach has asked for. And in relation to that, the coach lets us do what we want on the field. 

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“Of course, everyone has their responsibility, when they do not have the ball, they should mark, be in their position, defend. 

“But he lets us do what we want. No one feels pressure to determine who will make decisions and who will defend. Everyone works together, as a group.” 

@Phil_Coutinho has his hands on the Samba Gold award!

His delight at receiving the prize: https://t.co/0zlFBT0JRc pic.twitter.com/WsLthRjIg5

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) February 23, 2017

Of his award success, Coutinho added: “It means a lot. I’m very happy to know that this past year I have been recognised by many people. 

Matip: Liverpool will make top four

“It was an important year for me and I’m very happy to win this award. It was a good year. As a team, we played very well and we managed to get to two finals, but unfortunately we lost them.

“That was a very difficult time but it certainly made the group stronger.”

23

02 2017

Coutinho beats Neymar to best Brazilian player in Europe award

The Liverpool star has pipped Neymar to this year’s Samba Gold award, preventing the Barcelona forward from making it three wins in a row

Philippe Coutinho has been named the winner of this year’s Samba Gold prize given to the best Brazilian player in Europe.

The Liverpool star prevented Neymar from claiming the prize for the third straight year by topping a poll of fans, journalists and current and ex-players.

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Coutinho earned 32.13% of the overall vote, with Barcelona forward Neymar placing second on 27.88% and Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro rounding out the podium on 13.35%.

Casemiro’s Madrid team-mate Marcelo (6.81%) and Coutinho’s forward partner Roberto Firmino (6.25%) complete the top five.

Neymar Gabriel Jesus Brazil 2016

“It means a lot,” Coutinho told Liverpool’s official website. “I’m very happy to know that this past year I have been recognised by many people. It was an important year for me and I’m very happy to win this award.”

Neymar won both the journalists’ and players’ vote but Coutinho proved more popular with fans, taking 45.60% of the votes cast online compared to 19.44% for the Barca man.

It is the first time Coutinho has won the award since its inception in 2008 and prevents Neymar from drawing level with Thiago Silva for the most all-time wins, with the Paris Saint-Germain defender receiving the accolade three times.

Kaka, Luis Fabiano and Maicon won in the award’s first three years of existence before Silva was named the top player three years in a row.

After helping Liverpool to the League Cup and Europa League finals last season, Coutinho has been in outstanding form for the Reds during the 2016-17 campaign thus far.

“It was a good year,” he added. “As a team, we played very well and we managed to get to two finals.

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“Unfortunately, we did not win the finals, we lost. That was a very difficult time for us to deal with the defeat [to Sevilla] but this certainly made the group stronger.

“We started the season very well, at a high level. We all played very well, so, of course, 2016 was a good year. In the end I got injured, I missed a few games at the end of the year, but it was a positive year.”

23

02 2017

Klopp: Coutinho is trying too hard and needs to relax

The Liverpool boss feels that his star attacker is attempting to force things in matches and needs to let his natural talent come through to succeed

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has urged Philippe Coutinho to stop trying so hard as the club struggles to find consistent form.

The Reds have not won a Premier League game since the start of 2017, while Coutinho has not scored since November.

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Klopp has backed the Brazil international to turn things around, and says that he is now telling him to relax more during games.

“Yes, we try everything,” Klopp told the Liverpool Echo.

“Phil is the type of guy who takes everything in games. It’s not been easy for him. He takes all the responsibility in the world.”

Klopp has been impressed with Coutinho’s impact in training, but believes he is still trying to overdo things when he gets on the pitch.

Despite the 24-year-old trying too much in matches, the former Borussia Dortmund boss believes his form in training is more indicative of his ability.

“Yeah, that’s him,” Klopp responded when asked does Coutinho try too hard. 

“He has had a very good week in training. We have seen some very good signs from him.”

Klopp has also praised Sadio Mane’s efforts on the training ground this week, stating that he needs time to settle back in after returning from the Africa Cup of Nations.

Mane helped Senegal to the quarter-finals of the competition, but was less than impressive in his first start this year as Liverpool lost 2-0 to Hull City.

“It was the same thing with Sadio coming back from Africa,” the German said.

Wijnaldum: Klopp improves everyone

“You saw the first half, you saw the second half and you think: ‘Okay, that is not how he usually is.’

“You cannot know before. You have to take it. But he is another one who has had a really good week in training. That’s how it is.”

14

02 2017

The band's back together: Fab Four of Coutinho, Mane, Firmino and Lallana can restore Liverpool’s beat

At Hull City, the Reds are set to end a three-month period – spanning 12 Premier League games – without their explosive quartet operating in tandem


COMMENT


Ninety days, 18 fixtures and five defeats later, Jurgen Klopp can finally field his formidable attacking foursome from the off again for Liverpool.

‘Liverpool must be clever like Chelsea’

Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Adam Lallana have not featured together since the 6-1 demolition of Watford at the start of November. 

HD Liverpool Firmino Coutinho Lallana Mane

At Anfield on that afternoon, five of the goals directly came from one of the above: Senegal international Mane scored the first and the fourth, England’s Player of the Year Lallana recorded two assists, Coutinho was on the scoresheet and set up the opener, while his fellow Brazilian Firmino bagged one and was the supplier for two more.

The fluency between the front three, with Lallana superbly supporting them from midfield, was the Liverpool asset opposition managers most referenced being troubled by during the opening months of the campaign.

Beyond their exceptional quality on the ball, the quartet are also synchronised by their affinity for pressuring their markers into ceding possession. 

HD Liverpool Jurgen Klopp

And at Hull City on Saturday, Klopp is set to end a three-month period – spanning 12 Premier League encounters – without having the full extent of that chemistry and cohesion through injury and other enforced absences.

Liverpool team news & likely line-up

The ankle ligament damage Coutinho suffered in the 2-0 win over Sunderland was compounded by Lallana’s struggle with a groin issue. The latter, not at 100 per cent sharpness, replaced Mane who had taken a knock after 68 minutes in the 3-2 defeat at Bournemouth.

The first loss of the season, away to Burnley, came with the £30 million summer signing missing out through a shoulder injury.

HD Sadio Mane Phil Coutinho

His subsequent departure to the Africa Cup of Nations at the turn of the year then meant Liverpool were without their direct, daring speedster as well as their ‘gold dust’ in Coutinho. 

And it also saw Lallana, so effective in midfield, operating further ahead on occasion, lessening his influence on proceedings.

Incredibly, Klopp has only been able to start all four attackers together seven times in the Premier League, with six wins as well as a draw at Tottenham recorded in those fixtures.

Liverpool CEO to leave early

And in the 2-1 victory away to Swansea, they were only on the pitch at the same time for 23 minutes as Lallana was replaced through injury.

With 29 top-flight goals between them this season, it’s applaudable that Liverpool are one point off second in the standings despite the limited availability of their collective powers. 

HD Roberto Firmino

In fact, 24 of the Reds’ 52 successful attempts at goal in the league were registered when all four were named in the starting XI.

Of course, Liverpool’s worries during a most miserable January was not all down to the absence of Firmino, Coutinho, Mane and Lallana featuring in tandem.

Jordan Henderson’s battle with a persistent heel problem as well as Joel Matip’s troublesome ankle, plus his AFCON wrangle with Cameroon, did not help during a nine-game month, which saw fatigue increase while form did the opposite.

But if Liverpool are to finish “as strong as possible” as per their manager’s demand, their fab four will be instrumental in ensuring the sun comes out after a long cold lonely winter.

04

02 2017

Neymar, Coutinho, Lucas Moura and Brazil's last U20 South American champions

With a new generation in action in Ecuador this month, Brasil Global Tour catch up with what happened to the last Selecao graduates to take the title

With one eye focused intently on a place at the World Cup, the Brazil Under-20 side kicked off the final stage of the South American Championships this past weekend with a 2-2 draw against Ecuador.

Brazil are one of a six-team group competing for the title, with the top four securing a place at the World Cup in South Korea later this year.

Olympic gold medal-winning coach Rogerio Micale boasts a talented squad which includes the likes of promising youngsters Lyanco, Felipe Vizeu and David Neres, and is hoping to secure what would be the first Under-20 South American title since Neymar hit nine goals to take the crown in 2011.


READ MORE: 
We are all Chape  | Romario, Ronaldinho and Brazil’s Under-20 champions  | Brazil’s Road to Russia


Boy wonder Neymar took the continent by storm in 2011, hitting a stunning nine goals as Brazil claimed the title in Peru. Flanked by Lucas Moura and Oscar, the Santos star began the tournament with four goals against Paraguay and also hit doubles versus Uruguay and Chile.

He inspired Santos to the Copa Libertadores later that year, but missed the Under-20 World Cup as he joined the senior team for Copa America. The Selecao romped to the title in Peru, winning seven of their nine games and hitting 24 goals along the way, culminating in a 6-0 destruction of Uruguay.

Neymar and many of his colleagues have since gone on to take world football by storm. Below, Brasil Global Tour takes a look at what happened to the Selecao sub 20’s Class of 2011.


GOALKEEPERS


Romário Brasil 1988 18072016

First-choice goalkeeper in Peru that month was Gabriel, a then 18-year-old from Cruzeiro. He was snapped up by Milan the following year, but has yet to make a real splash in European football. He would have to wait until 2014 for a shot at regular first-team football, during a loan spell at Carpi, and subsequent loans to Napoli, and now Cagliari, have provided few opportunites.

Reserve goalkeeper Aleks is still with Avai and has also struggled with a series of loan spells and is currently with Sao Paulo-based Mirassol. Third goalkeeper Cesar, then of Flamengo, is now with Nacional with Nacional in Rolandia


CENTRAL DEFENDERS


Bruno Uvini Bortolança - Al Nassr, Saudi Arabia

Captain of the side, Bruno Uvini, was viewed as a hope for the future of Brazil’s defence. After coming through the ranks at Sao Paulo, he has since had spells at Tottenham, Napoli, Siena, Santos, and Dutch club Twente, and is now trying to get his career back on track with Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia. 

Juan Jesus moved to Italy the following year, and enjoyed four years as a first-team player with Inter before making a loan move to Roma this season. Flamenho’s Frauches is now with Army United of Thailand and Romario, who came through the ranks with Internacinal, is now with Marítimo in Portugal.


FULL-BACKS


Danilo Real Madrid Osasuna LaLiga

One of the great success stories of the squad was right-back Danilo. The Santos teenager went on to play a major role in his club’s Copa Libertadores success before heading to Portugal to join Porto. He promptly broke into the national team and later made a mega-money move to Real Madrid, though his progress has slowed in the Spanish capital as he struggles for regular first-team football.

Alex Sandro followed Danilo to Porto and then made a big money move to Juventus in Italy where he has since established himself as one of the finest left-backs in Europe, with only the superb form of Marcelo and Filipe Luis keeping him out of the Selecao senior squad. Flamengo’s Rafael Galhardo would go on to suffer a serious injury which saw him rescind his contract with the Rio club. He is now attempting to get his career back on track at Atletico Paranaense. Gabriel Silva, meanwhile, is now in Spain with Granada.


DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDERS


Casemiro Brasilien 07062015

Casemiro was another who’s career looked to be going off the rails following a series of disciplinary problems at Sao Paulo. However, a surprise move to Real Madrid transformed his fortunes. He impressed so much during loan spell with Porto that Madrid paid to bring him back, and he has since gone on to establish himself as a hugely important player for both club and country.

His partner, Fernando, impressed at Gremio before joining Sampdoria in Italy. He has since moved onto Spartak Moscow in Russia, while Allan was purchased by third-party investors and is now with Napoli after starring for Udinese in Serie A.


ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS


Lucas Moura PSG

Lucas Moura became another PSG mega-signing in 2013 and remains one of the stars of the French champions, with whom he’s won four Ligue 1 titles. He has also made over 30 appearances for the senior Brazil squad but has rarely featured since being left out of the World Cup 2014 squad. Felipe Anderson is starring regularly in Italy for Lazio.

After emerging as one of the biggest talents of that generation, and forming a hugely important part of the senior team in the run-up to the 2014 World Cup, Oscar suffered a dip in form as he found himself in and out of the Chelsea team. He has since moved on to Shanghai SIPG in China. Alan Patrick has had a stop-start career since joining Shaktar Donetsk from Santos in 2011, and is now back in Ukraine after a productive loan spell with Flamengo. Dudu, meanwhile, looks set to break into Tite’s squad after leading Palmeiras to the Brazilian league title last season.


ATTACKERS


Willian Jose Real Sociedad Las Palmas La Liga

Neymar has since gone on to establish himself as one of the world’s greatest players with Barcelona after conquering all before him at Santos. Philippe Coutinho took a longer route to success, first struggling in Italy with Inter before settling into one of Europe’s best with Liverpool. Both look set to play a major role in Brazil’s World Cup 2018 fortunes.

Willian Jose also joined up with third-party investors and lost a number of years bouncing from one loan move to another, but is today proving his huge talent with Real Sociedad in Spain. Henrique Almeida never really got going and recently joined Gremio, but will play for Coritiba in 2017. Diego Maurício is in South Korea and Negueba has recently joined Atletico-GO after a stop-start career.

02

02 2017

Coutinho sale one of my biggest regrets, admits Inter sporting director

The Brazil international departed San Siro for £8.5 million four years ago, and it is a move that continues to haunt the Italians

Inter sporting director Piero Ausilio has confessed that his decision to sell Philippe Coutinho to Liverpool ranks as one of the greatest regrets in his career.

Lallana named POTY 2016

The Brazilian playmaker barely featured for the Serie A side and was sold to the Anfield club in January 2013 for a fee of £8.5 million.

Since then, the 24-year-old has established himself as one of the finest players in the Premier League.

HD Phil Coutinho

“It was a great regret for me to have to sell him — perhaps one of my greatest regrets in over 20 years at Inter,” he told ESPN .

“I have splendid memories of Coutinho, both as a footballer and of the lad himself. When he got here, it struck us how outstanding he was immediately – he was serious and wanted to work and you could see that he had all that was needed to go on and do what he has done so far.”

Despite this quality, the South American would find his chances at San Siro restricted and has flourished since moving to England. So far this season, he has scored six goals and assisted seven more in only 20 outings for the Reds. 

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01 2017