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.

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. 

'I signed because the manager is a winner' – Coutinho plays down Liverpool woes

The Brazilian playmaker has committed to a new long-term deal at Anfield and remains convinced that Jurgen Klopp is the right man for the club

Philippe Coutinho has stressed that his penning of fresh terms at Liverpool was due to a confidence in the future under Jurgen Klopp, with one bad week not about to alter his thinking.

The Brazilian committed to a new long-term deal at Anfield on the day that the Reds saw their EFL Cup dreams dashed by Southampton at the semi-final stage.

Lallana named POTY 2016

That result was followed by another reversal in knockout competition over the weekend, as Championship side Wolverhampton Wanderers claimed a notable scalp in the FA Cup fourth round.

With the Reds having also dropped points in their last three Premier League fixtures to slip into fourth spot, a season which promised so much is in danger of delivering very little.

HD Philippe Coutinho

Coutinho, though, maintains that the club are heading in the right direction and that Klopp remains the right man to carry them forward, amid the first signs of discontent during his reign on Merseyside.

“I signed a new contract and there was a message,” Coutinho told the club’s official website.

Klopp: Liverpool’s mood has changed

“I am happy to sign, and I would like to say it is not about one week, no matter how bad that is, it is about the future with this squad.

“The club is very ambitious, the players and the manager are all focused. Everyone believes in that, and everyone wants to bounce back at this moment.

Jurgen Klopp Liverpool Wolves

“It has been a bad week, but we are looking beyond that. Of course we believe we can win titles under this manager – we are confident that will happen.

“Like I said before, I have signed because the manager is a winner, and everyone believes in him.

Manninger: Not easy to find top keeper

“I believe in what he does, and everyone inside the dressing room believes he will take this team to titles – that is why I signed a new contract, and that is what we want to do.”

Liverpool’s next opportunity to get back on track arrives on Tuesday evening, when they welcome Premier League leaders Chelsea to Anfield – with the Reds looking for Coutinho to rediscover the spark which earned him so many early-season plaudits prior to picking up an untimely knock.

Klopp: Defeats have changed the mood at Liverpool

The Reds have managed just one win in 2017 and are on a miserable current run as they prepare to take on leaders Chelsea on Tuesday

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp accepts the mood around the club has been affected by a run of three straight defeats at Anfield in all competitions.

Marseille complete Payet signing

Klopp’s side were sent crashing out of the FA Cup on Saturday, suffering a 2-1 loss to Championship side Wolves, following Wednesday’s 1-0 EFL Cup semi-final defeat to Southampton and a 3-2 Premier League reverse against struggling Swansea City.

Liverpool have toiled in the absence of Sadio Mane, with the forward on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations with Senegal, and Klopp conceded recent poor results have had an impact on morale among his players.

“This is still a very good squad and I am still quite a good manager, even though we have lost the last three games,” Klopp said.

“That doesn’t change, but the mood around us has changed. I have absolutely nothing good to say about the last defeat, the only good thing about the game is that it is over. Now we have the chance to win the next game and we must keep faith.”

Klopp’s men face Chelsea in a crunch Premier League clash at Anfield on Tuesday, with a 10-point gap to make up on Antonio Conte’s league leaders, and playmaker Philippe Coutinho believes Liverpool can recover from recent setbacks.

“You know the club is very ambitious, the players and the manager all are focused,” the Brazil international said. “Everyone believes in that, and everyone wants to bounce back at this moment.

“Yes it has been a bad week, but we are looking beyond that. Of course we believe we can win titles under this manager – we are confident that will happen.

Ronaldo shakes off jeers to extend lead

“Like I said before, I have signed because the manager is a winner, and everyone believes in him. I believe in what he does, and everyone inside the dressing room believes he will take this team to titles – that is why I signed a new contract, and that is what we want to do.

“We have to lift ourselves for Chelsea, that is very important. We have another opportunity straight away to bounce back, and it is a good opportunity, a big game against Chelsea. That is it.  We have a few days to prepare everything, and to go again and that is what we must do now.”

Coutinho: I want to beat Barcelona at Liverpool

The Brazilian was the subject of interest from the Catalans before signing a new deal at Anfield and wants to build a dynasty on Merseyside instead

Philippe Coutinho has insisted he is not interested in joining Barcelona and wants to be part of a world-class team at Liverpool instead.

The Brazil playmaker recently signed a new contract running until 2021 at Anfield despite interest from Camp Nou and the possibility of linking up with his international team-mate Neymar.

Sturridge must speed past his critics

Coutinho says he would rather help Jurgen Klopp turn the Reds back into the dominant domestic and continental force they were in the 1970s and 80s, when they won 11 English First Division titles and four European Cups.

“I believe in finding somewhere you can express yourself, play without fear, play with everything you have,” he told the Daily Mail. “When you find that place, stay.

HD Phil Coutinho

“This club, Liverpool, it has a plan: to be back on the top, and that’s what I believe in. I want to be part of that.

“From the owner, the manager, my team-mates. There is nothing that stops us competing with the big clubs. Clubs in England. Clubs in Europe. Yes, clubs like Barcelona. Why not?

“This is a great club. I remember how helpful everyone was when I first came to England, like a family. They made me welcome, comfortable. They removed any obstacles, they allowed me to think first about football and second about football. I remember that.

Klopp backs Sturridge to find form

“For certain, I am comfortable here, my family is comfortable here. No doubts.”

Coutinho added that the feeling of belonging on Merseyside was a major factor in persuading him to sign a new deal.

HD Phil Coutinho

“There are two parts to this decision [to sign]: first the ambition of the club and then my family,” he said. “They are with me.

“Every player here is treated well. The club supports us and allows us to focus on the football. Not just me, everyone. Nothing special for me. There is a structure to help.

“When a new player comes, especially from abroad, they have a team to support the wife, the family. When I go to play, I can concentrate and play. It is professional, professional like a big club.”

In terms of fulfilling his ambitions at Liverpool, Coutinho insisted there was no reason for him to wait any longer to renew his deal as the Klopp era at Anfield takes shape.

“No need to wait,” he added. “I know. I live this every day, I can smell it. I see the ambition of the club, my team-mates, the manager. I am living it, seeing it. Wait to sign? No. No. Now is the right time.

“I understand what Liverpool means. We can say Dalglish, Rush, Hansen, Souness, Suarez, Gerrard. I’ve been here quite a few years already, it’s not like I am new. I understand.

Gomez commits to Liverpool until 2022

“To have signed a new contract at this club, my goal is to be thought of one day in the same way as these players. They are legends. You define the success of a player by his loyalty or his titles. Or both. In order to be part of this group, I have so much to do.

“I want to win titles. Five years is my new contract… it gives me that opportunity.”

Inferior to MSN & no heir to Iniesta – Barcelona right not to break the bank for Coutinho

The 24-year-old is a fine player but he is not yet good enough to feed Barcelona forward trio Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez


ANALYSIS


Liverpool’s Twitter feed announced Philippe Coutinho’s signing of a new contract as “the news you’ve been waiting for”. For Barcelona, it was the news that they had been dreading.

The Blaugrana had made Coutinho their primary transfer target for 2017. Barca forward Neymar had tried desperately to persuade his Brazil team-mate to join him at Camp Nou , while Xavi told Goal in November, “Philippe is a player I have always thought is special but under [Liverpool coach Jurgen] Klopp, he has gone up another level. There are not many players that can improve Barcelona but, on this form, I think he is one of them.”

Klopp hails Coutinho for Barca snub

However, in acknowledging Coutinho’s improvement over the past 18 months, Barca’s former midfield metronome had unintentionally tapped into the very reason why the 24-year-old decided to stay at Liverpool.

“Jurgen is a great manager,” the Rio native enthused after extending his contract until 2022. “It’s not only me, but every other player feels honoured to play at this great club for this great manager. This feeling has a very positive influence on us as players.”

The influence that Coutinho has on Liverpool is equally significant, though. His absence was keenly felt during his recent seven-week spell on the sidelines with an ankle injury. This is demonstrated by Opta’s Expected Goals (xG) model which measures how likely a particular shot is to be scored based on distance to the goal, angle to the goal, assist type, whether or not it was headed and a variety of other factors. This assigns an xG value between 0 and 1 that reflects how likely the shot is to be scored. So, for example, 0.3 xG means a shot will typically be scored 30% of the time.

With Coutinho in the starting line-up, Klopp’s men average 1.79 xG per game and just 1.63 without him.

His struggles to regain match fitness have also hit Liverpool hard. Before suffering ligament damage against Sunderland on November 26, Coutinho had already racked up six goals and five assists in just 14 appearances in all competitions. He has featured five times since his recovery and made just one decisive contribution: the corner from which Lucas headed Liverpool past Plymouth in an FA Cup third-round replay – their only victory of 2017.

‘Criticise Messi & conversation ends!’

The near-collapse of Liverpool’s season has coincided with Coutinho’s fitness problems. At the time of his injury, Liverpool were unbeaten in 11 Premier League games, second in the standings, just one point behind Chelsea. They are now fourth, 10 points off the top and reeling after a League Cup semi-final exit at the hands of Southampton.

Still, while Liverpool are in dire need of a fit and firing Phillipe Coutinho, Barcelona are not. Admittedly, as Xavi said, “He would suit Barcelona’s philosophy well.” Coutinho has the vision, the touch, the skill-set and the range of passing to excel in such a pure footballing environment. He is happy in Liverpool but he would be at home in Barcelona.

Philippe Coutinho Liverpool EPL Stats PS

Coutinho, though, is not good enough to break into Luis Enrique’s starting line-up – not yet, at least. His preferred position is on the left-hand side of a front three, which is where Neymar presently plays, for both Barca and Brazil. To accommodate Coutinho at international level, Selecao boss Tite has deployed him on the right – and to great effect, with five of Coutinho’s six Brazil goals to date having come in 2016.

However, there is no chance of Coutinho being handed the same role at Barca, given that position is occupied by Lionel Messi. The Argentine could be moved back into his ‘false nine’ role but that would mean dropping Luis Suarez, a man who recently broke the 100-goal barrier in just 120 games.

Luis Enrique hails Messi evolution

In truth, there is no case to be made for Coutinho breaking up the ‘MSN’, as underlined by Opta’s Expected Assists (xA) model. Similarly to the aforementioned xG formula, the xA model measures how likely it is that a completed pass becomes an assist based on factors such as pass type, distance to goal before and after the pass, and pass length.

The respective xG and xA numbers of Coutinho over 90 minutes are far inferior to the MSN; Coutinho (0.31 and 0.34); Messi (0.75 and 0.54), Suarez (0.71 and 0.22), Neymar (0.42 and 0.42).

Thus, Barca viewed Coutinho as the heir to Andres Iniesta’s throne. The king is not yet dead, of course, as he has underlined this term. However, at almost 33 it is clear that Barca need a worthy successor, particularly as last summer’s signing Andre Gomes has proven more pretender than contender.

Andres Iniesta Barcelona Liga Stats PS

Coutinho offers more than Iniesta in terms of goals and assists. The Spaniard, though, has never been particularly prolific in either regard. His genius is unquantifiable, as is his propensity for rising to the big occasion. Iniesta has repeatedly reserved the greatest demonstrations of his class for the grandest games – such as the midfield masterclass in the 2015 Champions League final.

Furthermore, Iniesta plays a deeper role than Coutinho. Indeed, not since Liverpool’s 2013-14 Premier League campaign has Coutinho regularly played on the left-hand side of a midfield three – and even then, he operated in a fluid formation in which he, Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge regularly changed positions.

The fact is that it would be folly for Barcelona to break the bank for a player who would not readily slot into their starting line-up. Their money would be better spent elsewhere, namely pinning Messi down to a new contract. Much more than acquiring Coutinho, that is the news that Barca fans are waiting for.

'Magical' Coutinho Liverpool's key to success – Gerrard

The former England midfielder says that the future for the Reds looks “exciting”, with their ace having just signed a new-long term contract

Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard has hailed Philippe Coutinho and feels the Brazil international is “a magical player” who is key to their chances of winning silverware in the near future.

‘I’m talking Ronaldo into Inter move!’

Coutinho signed a new long-term deal with Liverpool this week to end all speculation about a potential move to Barcelona.

Gerrard, meanwhile, is set to return to Liverpool as a youth coach, a role he will start in February.

And, speaking at the launch event this week for the Star Sixes tournament, to be held at the O2 Arena in London in July, Gerrard said of Coutinho: “I think for any team you have always got to try and keep your best players and Philippe has been instrumental over the last couple of years.

“He has grown and become a world-class talent.

‘United should sign Bale & Griezmann’ – Ferdinand

HD Jurgen Klopp Phil Coutinho

“I have trained against him on a daily basis and played with him and he is a phenomenal footballer. He can do magical things with the ball.

“He is the type of player you want to build your team around. And if Liverpool are to be successful in the coming years then I am sure he will have a big part to play in it.

“He is a magical player.”

Liverpool crashed out of the EFL Cup in midweek as Southampton proved to be too strong in the semi-finals, but Gerrard remains confident they can win silverware this campaign.

“Of course they can win trophies this season,” he added.

“They have had a sticky period but they can certainly play through that. I think the next two or three games are very important. If they can get a win against Wolves they can go into the last 16 of the FA Cup. If they can take maximum points off Chelsea it gives them that bit of confidence and belief. So there is still a lot to play for.

“But I think the big picture for Liverpool is exciting. They have got a very strong team, strong squad and a world-class manager so I expect big things.”

Klopp hails Coutinho's decision to snub Barcelona for new Liverpool deal

The Brazil international has shown that he believes in the Reds’ project by inking fresh terms at Anfield, the delighted German said

Jurgen Klopp has hailed Philippe Coutinho’s decision to shun interest from Barcelona by signing a new contract at Liverpool.

OFFICIAL: Coutinho signs new deal

The club announced on Wednesday that the 24-year-old has committed to fresh terms that will come into effect in July and will see him become their highest earner on £150,000 a week.

Coutinho has been heavily linked with Barcelona in recent months as a result of his exceptional form in his four years at Anfield, with former Brazil international Rivaldo tipping him as a shrewd signing to link up with compatriot and close friend Neymar.

But manager Klopp believes Coutinho has demonstrated his commitment to Liverpool’s project by pledging his future to the club.

“This is wonderful news and I know everyone associated with LFC will be delighted when hearing this,” he told the club’s official website.

‘Hazard will be Chelsea’s best ever’

“I think everyone knows what a great footballer Phil is, that is not in question – but not everyone sees what an incredibly positive character he is and what a big influence he is on the dressing room.

“I knew of Phil before I came to Liverpool and I was well aware of what a talent he was, but since arriving here I have not only witnessed his ability up close, but also his ever-continuing development. He is truly world-class – in that very top bracket.

 It’s the news you’ve been waiting for…

  @Phil_Coutinho has signed a new deal with the club!

 Read more: https://t.co/SC3OdLiGre pic.twitter.com/QjxLG3zj03

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) January 25, 2017

“The fact he wants to stay here and be part of what we are looking to build and develop shows his personal commitment is to make himself better and be an integral part of something that is very special.

“We have total belief in our project, but when a player of Phil’s calibre and status commits for this length of time it shows that our faith is shared throughout the game. He knows he can fulfil his dreams and ambitions here at Liverpool. This is a big statement.

Lewy: Barca & Real not a step up

“I look forward to seeing Phil create many more great memories and moments for this club.”

Coutinho himself suggested that the opportunity to continue working with Klopp was a major factor behind his decision to sign a new deal.

“Jurgen is a great manager,” said the former Inter playmaker. “We all can see how much he has changed here since he arrived – and how much he will change in future. He is a winner.

“It’s not only me, but every other player feels honoured to play at this great club for this great manager. This feeling has a very positive influence on us as players.”

CONFIRMED: Coutinho pens new Liverpool contract

The Brazil international, believing his ambitions can be met at Anfield under Jurgen Klopp’s charge, has no escape stipulations in his extension

Philippe Coutinho has signed a new Liverpool contract without a release clause, which runs until 2022 and certifies him as the club’s highest-paid player. 

The 24-year-old’s decision to commit his long-term future to the Reds was confirmed on Wednesday morning amid interest from Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.

Xhaka denies airport allegations

The Brazil international, believing his ambitions can be met at Anfield under Jurgen Klopp’s charge, eschewed escape stipulations as part of his extension.

HD Jurgen Klopp Phil Coutinho

With his young family settled on Merseyside, his contribution warmly saluted on the terraces, and the belief that Liverpool are on an upward trajectory, Coutinho was happy to show his gratitude to the club by staying put.

Ferguson: Man Utd mirroring Mourinho

He told their official website: “I am very happy to sign a new contract for this club. It is a club that I am very grateful to and this shows my happiness here. 

“I will work much harder to repay the belief shown in me.

“This is a fantastic club, one of the biggest clubs in the world – and we should be there amongst the other big clubs. This is a football club with great players and great technical staff. It has everything to achieve great things in future.

“Since we [his family] arrived here we were welcomed with open arms by everyone. 

HD Phil Coutinho

“We feel at home in this city, we feel a part of this city. It is a very important day for me, my wife and my daughter. I am happy – and everyone is happy at home!”

The announcement will lift Liverpool, who have been determined to stop the talent drain of seasons past as they build a culture of excellence and achievement.

Neymar fails in Coutinho to Barca coup

It will also elevate Coutinho to the uppermost salary bracket at the club, where he’ll now be above Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Daniel Sturridge with a package understood to be around £150,000 a week.

And his ambition now is to help fire the Reds to silverware. “Titles, I think that is very important,” he said when asked about his targets over the course of his new deal.

“When I say titles, I mean leagues – and this is one of the best leagues in the world – but also the Champions League and fighting with the best teams in Europe. 

“That is my aim – it is the aim of everyone at this football club to be up there. Every player, every staff member at this club. This is what we are searching for.”

More money, no buyout problems: Coutinho to bank top salary at Liverpool with new deal

An announcement on the 24-year-old’s decision to commit to the Anfield side is expected imminently as he gets lifted to their uppermost salary bracket

Philippe Coutinho is on the brink of becoming Liverpool’s highest earner with a new contract expected to run until 2022 that does not contain a release clause.

Neymar fails to convince Coutinho to join Barca

Talks with the Brazil international over fresh terms have been positive, with the player happy to commit his future to the Reds without escape stipulations attached as an endorsement of Jurgen Klopp’s vision for the club. 

HD Jurgen Klopp Phil Coutinho

The announcement of the 24-year-old’s decision to progress with the deal, expected imminently, will lift Liverpool, who have been determined to stop the talent drain of seasons past as they build a culture of excellence and achievement. 

It will also elevate Coutinho to the uppermost salary bracket at Anfield, where he’ll now be above Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Daniel Sturridge with a package understood to be around £150,000 a week.

The new proposal rightly reflects the attacker’s status at the club, where he has been named Player of the Season two years running, while warding off interest from Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain. 

HD Phil Coutinho

Coutinho’s continued advancement – he was the among the Premier League’s standout performers before ankle ligament damage suffered in November kept him sidelined for 46 days – was always going to lead to interest from Europe’s elite.

But the creative conjurer from Rio, who has already contributed to 13 goals in this campaign, regards Anfield as the best place for his talents with his young family settled on Merseyside, his contribution warmly saluted on the terraces, and the belief that Liverpool are on an upward trajectory under Klopp.

Ferguson: Man Utd are now mirroring Mourinho

Coutinho feels his ambitions can be realised with the Reds, which is exactly the sentiment the German has referenced solidifying in the past.

“It is creating the perspective that no-one wants to leave. That is all it is about,” the manager said.

“The players like to be here and it is our job to make sure it stays like this.”