Ahead of Southampton’s clash with Liverpool on Saturday, the Saints boss has hailed the Brazilian midfielder’s ability and compared him to the South American stars
Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino believes Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho has similar qualities to fellow South Americans Ronaldinho and Lionel Messi.
Coutinho moved to Anfield from Inter in January and has enjoyed a productive start to his Premier League career, scoring once and notching two assists in four games.
Pochettino, who worked with the 20-year-old during a loan spell at Espanyol last season, believes the midfielder has “a special magic in his feet”.
“Philippe is a Brazilian player and, as it happens with most Brazilians, he has a special magic in his feet,” Pochettino told reporters.
“Aside from the magic that he has, he also has an amazing work rate and that makes us doubt whether he fits the mould of a typical Brazilian player or a European one because his work ethic is outstanding.
“What is important about him is he is a good lad, a good kid – a great, humble person. I do think Coutinho has that same quality that Ronaldinho and Messi have, but he has much to prove yet.
“What is really clear to me is that Coutinho is a really responsible player – really dedicated and responsible to his own players.”
Southampton had at one point been heavily linked with the Brazilian midfielder but when asked whether the Saints could have signed Coutinho, Pochettino suggested that the failed move should be consigned to history.
He said: “What has happened in the past, happened in the past. We can’t change it or do anything about it. Actually, talking about it is not going to do anything positive either.”