Who is Liverpool's Player of the Season?

Goal.com nominates the top three standout performers from Brendan Rodgers’ debut season in charge at the Merseyside club – have your say in the comments section below!

Following the summer appointment of manager Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool’s season has panned out largely as the realists expected.

A campaign defined by the liberal use of the word “transition” by fans, the manager and players has materialised, and that has understandably provided a mixed bag in terms of results.

Early exits from the Capital One Cup and FA Cup, at the hands of Swansea and Oldham respectively, were particularly disappointing given last year’s run to the finals of both competitions and victory in one.

The Reds also saw their Europa League campaign ended at the quarter-final stage by Zenit St Petersburg, a team who might have been considered easy pickings during recent years of European success.

However, the Merseyside club look set to improve on last season’s eighth-placed Premier League finish by one place at least, while an attack which looked anaemic at times under Kenny Dalglish has already surpassed last year’s goal total.

Here, Goal.com looks at three reasons for Liverpool’s (admittedly minor) improvements this term, and you can let us know if you agree or disagree in the comments below!

PHILIPPE COUTINHO | FORWARD

Competition Games
Goals Assists Booked
Sent off
League 9 2 3 0 0
FA Cup 0 0 0 0 0
Capital One Cup 0 0 0 0 0
Europe 0 0 0 0 0
Total 9 2 3 0 0

It is perhaps surprising that a man who has featured on just nine occasions for Liverpool could earn a place on a season-long shortlist, but this simply underlines the size of Coutinho’s impact.

The Brazilian has already equalled Stewart Downing’s assists tally and trails him by just one goal, despite having made 16 fewer Premier League appearances.

Coutinho has also helped refresh a frontline which was struggling to create and score before January, providing flashes of the brilliance which make his £8 million pricetag appear ludicrous given his tender years.

Liverpool fans displayed their appreciation for the 20-year-old’s talents just three games into his Reds career, working his name into a rousing version of Arrow’s 1982 hit “Hot Hot Hot” as Brendan Rodgers’ men brushed Wigan aside.

It will be hoped that there is even more to come from the former Inter man, and so that song may become a familiar soundtrack to victories at Anfield in the future.

STEVEN GERRARD | MIDFIELDER

Competition Games
Goals Assists Booked
Sent off
League 34 9 9 5 0
FA Cup 1 0 0 0 0
Capital One Cup 1 0 0 0 0
Europe 8 1 1 0 0
Total 44 10 11 5 0

Steven Gerrard’s immense contribution to his hometown club’s cause over the last decade did not provide him with immunity from criticism during the opening stages of the season.

Observers questioned whether, at 32 years old, the midfielder was perhaps past his best, unable to recreate the bursts of pace and strength which characterised much of his success in recent history.

But, as he has done on many occasions throughout a storied career, Gerrard has since proven his doubters wrong.

The England captain has reinvented himself as a deep-lying midfielder this season, utilising his long passing range and timing of runs to perfection.

His withdrawn position has not stunted his creative influence either, with the Whiston-born star having matched his best-ever Premier League assists total of nine.

The long-term benefits of moving Gerrard’s ageing legs back are clear, and Rodgers will hope that his skipper can feature in such lists for many years to come as a result.

Competition Games
Goals Assists Booked
Sent off
League 33 23 8 10 0
FA Cup 2 2 0 0 0
Capital One Cup 1 1 0 0 0
Europe 8 4 3 1 0
Total 44 29 10 11 0

In truth, the debate over who has been Liverpool’s player of the season is rendered void by the fact that the Reds arguably boast the best player in the entire league.

Luis Suarez is unlikely to win the PFA Player of the Year award due to his numerous indiscretions (despite the inexcusable decision to bite Branislav Ivanovic on Sunday afternoon coming after the voting had closed) but the Uruguayan has lit up the English top flight this term with a series of stunning displays.

In terms of league goals he is second only to Robin van Persie – who is, with respect, blessed with more talented team-mates – and has chipped in with his fair share of assists as well.

That the 26-year-old allies this creative output to the workrate of a lower league player and a frightening will to win puts him head and shoulders above his peers.

Suarez’s recent declaration of his desire to remain at Anfield will be music to the ears of Liverpool fans, but the striker must face better competition for this accolade next season if he is to stay even longer.

Coutinho credits Liverpool team-mates for speedy Premier League transition

The Brazilian attacker has formed an instant bond with ‘big brother’ and countryman Lucas Leiva, while Reds captain Steven Gerrard has also been giving the youngster advice

Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho has described how his new Anfield colleagues have helped him settle into life in England, both on and off the pitch.

The 20-year-old joined the Reds in January from Inter and has made an immediate impact, notching two goals and three assists in just six league outings.

And the Brazilian has acknowledged the contribution of his new team-mates in speeding his acclimatisation to the pace of the Premier League and his new-found defensive responsibilities.

“There were a few occasions when I was quite slow and Steven Gerrard came up to me and asked me to be much quicker with the ball, and mark the opposition players more quickly too,” Coutinho revealed to the Sunday Times.

“Some other team-mates ask me the same, they are always trying to help me get better.”

The former Vasco da Gama attacker has also received support away from the training pitches, forming a close bond with fellow Brazilian and “big brother” Lucas, who played a key role in persuading Coutinho to move to Merseyside.

“When we’re here in the training ground we’re always together, whether on the pitch or in the dressing room, and when we are out of here we go for meals together sometimes,” continued the former Inter starlet.

But while the January recruit may have made a quick transition to English football, he is still getting used to the colder climate.

“It’s completely different from Brazil, the wind here is really strong and cold,” added Coutinho.

“I tell my friends in Brazil and when they come over they cannot believe how cold it is. But with time we’ll get used to it.”

Liverpool starlet Coutinho seeking Europa League qualification

The Brazilian playmaker, who joined the club from Inter in January, has vowed to help the Reds try to claim the final European spot and also praised team-mate Luis Suarez

Liverpool attacker Philippe Coutinho is eager to qualify for the Europa League and believes securing European football for next season is of the utmost importance.

The Anfield outfit have won the Europa League, in its former guise of the Uefa Cup, on three occasions – most recently under Gerard Houllier in 2001.

And the Reds’ 20-year-old signing from Inter is adamant that Liverpool – who have also won five European Cups – belong in European competition, and that the entire squad are determined to qualify.

“It’s very important for the club and for the players,” Coutinho told the Daily Mail.

“Liverpool must play for European trophies all the time. We will do our utmost in the last few games to get maximum points in order for us reach a place in the Europa League.”

The Rio de Janeiro-born playmaker also praised Uruguayan team-mate Luis Suarez, who tops the Premier League goalscoring charts, and has lauded their on-field bond.

“Suarez is a fantastic player and it’s an honour to play with him,” Coutinho continued. “Together I hope we achieve great things for Liverpool.

“He’s excellent, always on the move during the game, and helps you open the defence more easily.”

Rodgers targets summmer additions

The 40-year-old believes the Reds need to press ahead with recruiting players at the end of the season, citing the need to avoid the problems that hurt the side in the past

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has stated that the club need to focus on adding new players to the squad in the summer and learn from their past mistakes in the transfer market.

The 40-year-old spoke of “operational issues” after the club left themselves with just one fit senior striker by the close of the window in the summer in the form of Luis Suarez after loaning Andy Carroll to West Ham without having a guaranteed replacement lined up.

They moved to rectify that error and bolster their attacking line during January by bringing in Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea and Inter playmaker Philippe Coutinho, with Rodgers admitting that the scars of the Carroll debacle need to avoided at all costs in the future.

“We would have liked to bring in a few more players in the summer but we didn’t,” Rodgers told Yahoo.

“The group were admirable with what they coped in that period because we had a lot of games. We knew we had to bring in reinforcements in January and the board worked superbly to get those players.

“We are hopeful that come the summer we can make more additions that will take us on to the next level.

“So there was no vindication really, just that Andy [Carroll] wanted to play games every week and at the time there wasn’t the availability to bring in a replacement.

“The business we did in January however was excellent and that’s a great credit to the club.”

With the club still maintaining an outside chance of pushing for a top-four place this season, Rodgers believes the way Coutinho and Sturridge have settled has provided a boost to the entire squad.

He added: “He [Sturridge] has settled in very well, but he still has lots of aspects of his game to work on in order to achieve what he wants to and to allow him to make the kind of impact that we want.

“He has made a very promising start and as long as he maintains that same level of commitment and responsible attitude to improving, I can see him being a great signing for the club.

“[Coutinho] might be slight in stature but he’s still got real power and mental strength too, plus he’s a wonderful technician.”

For more insight from Brendan Rodgers and other leading managers plus exclusive Premier League highlights go to www.yahoo.co.uk/sport

Henderson hails Coutinho after Liverpool victory over Aston Villa

The January signing provided a superb pass from which the midfielder was able to draw the Reds level before Steven Gerrard sealed the points from the penalty spot

Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson has heaped praise on January signing Philippe Coutinho after the Brazilian set up the Reds’ equaliser in Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Aston Villa.

Coutinho threaded a superb pass through to allow Henderson to cancel out Christian Benteke’s opener before Steven Gerrard converted a penalty to seal the points.

The €7.7 million January signing from Inter is only 20 but has quickly become a fixture in Brendan Rodgers’ starting line-up, and Henderson was full of praise for his “outstanding” young team-mate.

“It was a great start to the second half for us and it was a great ball from Philippe, and thankfully I managed to slot it in, so I’m over the moon,” Henderson told the club’s official website.

“It was all about the ball from Philippe which was outstanding and I thank him for that one.

“Philippe is brilliant and I think everyone can see that. He’s a real talent and he’s young as well. He has been outstanding since he came into the team and hopefully he can keep that going.”

Benteke put struggling Villa ahead in the first half but the Reds turned the game on its head after the break to earn the victory.

“We were really pleased with our second-half performance,” Henderson added. “I thought we came out and played some good stuff, defended very well, so overall we are delighted with the three points.

“The manager told us at half-time to up our game a little bit more. We were doing okay and probably were the better team in the first half, just, but in the second we took that on board, got forward more and got the two goals.

“[Luis] Suarez did brilliantly to win the penalty for us and we all know Stevie is brilliant at penalties.”

In addition to hitting the target himself, Gerrard preserved Liverpool’s lead by brilliantly heading a Benteke effort off the line.

“It was unbelievable,” Henderson said. “Stevie was outstanding again for us and he’s been doing that for many years now so it’s not a surprise to anyone.”

The former Sunderland midfielder was in Rodgers’ XI for the first time since the Europa League tie against Zenit St Petersburg last month and hoped he had taken his chance to impress.

“It’s nice to play football,” he admitted. “The team has been playing brilliantly of late.

“I haven’t played as much as I would have liked but I got the chance here and thankfully we won. Hopefully we can win more games now.”

Coutinho: I want to become a key player for Liverpool

The 20-year-old has revealed that he has settled well into life at the Merseyside club and has vowed to become an important player at Anfield over the coming years

Philippe Coutinho has reflected on his successful start to life at Anfield and has vowed to continue to improve and eventually become a key player for Liverpool.

The midfielder joined the Reds in January from Inter, scoring two goals and assisting a further two in his first five appearances for the club.

Despite his positive start, the Brazilian isn’t content with his early success and says he will continue to improve in the coming years.

“The manager here is still young but he’s an excellent person and a very good coach. He speaks openly to everyone and I’m pleased to be working with him,” he told the Liverpool Echo.

“The games are quicker and more physical but I like that. I am learning all the time.

“Every player wants to improve and get better and I am the same. I am still young and have so much still to learn.

“I hope to be here for many years and become a big player for Liverpool. I will continue to work hard and do my best to improve my performances and help Liverpool.”

Coutinho also added that he hopes his successful domestic performances could result in him being called up for the Brazil squad, where he already has one cap.

“It was an honour for me when I was called up the first time,” Coutinho revealed. “At the moment my aim is to play well for Liverpool and to learn and develop as much as I can.

“But I am sure if I play consistently well for Liverpool then the Brazil coach will notice me and I’ll be called up for the national team.

“The fact the next World Cup is in Brazil makes that extra special. I will try to play as well as I can in order to make the squad.

“It’s my dream to play for Brazil in the World Cup.”

Pochettino: Coutinho has that same quality as Ronaldinho and Messi, but much to prove

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.”

Suarez is phenomenal, says Liverpool's Coutinho

The 20-year-old Brazilian has made a big impact since his January transfer from Inter, but says he is a big admirer of his Uruguayan team-mate, who “gives himself” to the squad

Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho says that team-mate Luis Suarez is a “phenomenal” and “otherworldly” player.

The 20-year-old made his €10 million move to Anfield in January with the hope of providing some much-needed support to an often isolated Suarez, who is a player he admires for the way he “gives himself to the team”.

“Suarez is phenomenal – he is otherworldly,” he told the club’s official website.

“The goals he scores, the way he gives himself to the team… It is very important and I am very happy to be able to play next to him.

“I think it’s the way he gives himself to the team – he fights all the time and chases all the time. He doesn’t let one ball go – even if it’s the hardest one.

“He fights all the time to win and I admire that in a player. I think it is one of his strong points.

“I’m not only happy to play next to him, but also other players like Steven [Gerrard], who is phenomenal, too. These are guys from another world!”

Coutinho has impressed since arriving at Anfield, with a goal on his debut against Swansea and a good performance against Tottenham in their 3-2 win, but says he has found it difficult to adapt to the physicality and pace of the Premier League.

“It is very different here. In Brazil the game is very open, the defenders are not as tight with the attacker. I think this is the hardest thing here,” he added.

“Also, the game is very quick – but I feel I can improve these things during training and improve my intensity.

“I have been doing some body building, too, so I can get more used to the physicality.

“English football is very quick, it has great intensity, and I think this is the big difference [to other leagues].

“In Brazil, football is slower, the tactics are a bit more open and the pitch even seems to be bigger – even though it is obviously the same size – due to the game being so open.

“In Italy, it is a little bit different than it is in Brazil, but here in England it is very quick. I played in Italy and in Spain but the intensity of the game here is very strong. I just have to improve to be able to play at the highest level here.

“I will always give my best and then try to score and create good moves to help the team win.”

Gerrard & Enrique praise Coutinho impact at Liverpool

The Reds captain has been impressed with the Brazilian since his €10 million arrival at Anfield and believes he has injected a much-needed creative spark into Brendan Rodgers’ sid

Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard has hailed the impact of Philippe Coutinho on Merseyside and believes he has injected fresh impetus into the Reds.

The 20-year-old became the latest addition to Brendan Rodgers’ squad at Anfield after a €10 million switch from Italian giants Inter and has made a big impact since his arrival in January.

Coutinho is yet to complete a full 90 minutes on English soil, but he has already scored once and assisted two goals in just 202 minutes of football.

“He’s got moments of magical brilliance,” Gerrard told reporters.

“I think you’ll see the best of him next season when he gets a full pre-season under his belt and gets used to the speed of the game.

“What he has shown for 55 or 60 minutes is that he’s a top player and he belongs in a Liverpool shirt. If we can get that for 90 minutes from him next season then he’s going to be a great asset for us.”

Left-back Jose Enrique echoed the sentiments of his skipper and believes there is even more to come from the youngster when he is fully fit.

“The numbers speak for themselves. In four games he has two assists and one goal so I hope he will continue like this scoring goal and making assists,” Enrique added.

“He is the type of a player, as a big team, you have to have.

“He can create from nothing in a one versus one. He is playing really well right now and he is the type of player we need.

“Defenders are important but you need people who can score goals and we have now.”

Liverpool assistant Pascoe hails 'brilliant' Coutinho

Brendan Rodgers’ No.2 insists the Brazilian’s seamless start to life on Merseyside has not surprised the Reds’ coaching staff and is happy with how he has settled in

Liverpool assistant manager Colin Pascoe has hailed Philippe Coutinho and his impact on the Reds’ first team.

The Brazilian signed from Inter in January and has already managed a goal and two assists in his three appearances for the Merseyside outfit.

“Philippe has been brilliant,” Pascoe told the club’s official website.

“He is a quiet, young lad and it must be hard for him because he doesn’t speak much English – and I can’t help him as he doesn’t speak Welsh either! But with Luis [Suarez], Lucas, Sebastian [Coates] and Fabio [Borini] you have Spanish and Italian, and he can speak that.

“I’m not surprised by his impact so far as we knew how good a player he was. He’s got a good eye, he’s got a good awareness of where his team-mates are and that’s what he’s picked up very quickly.

“He got two assists at Wigan. The one he crossed for Stewart Downing’s goal with two wingers combining was fantastic, and his goal against Swansea was superb.

“He wants to get into the box and he wants to score goals. If the opportunity is there for a pass he will make the right decision whether to shoot or pass and that’s the sign of a good player.”

Pascoe is also happy that Brendan Rodgers’ style of football seems to be paying off, with Liverpool having scored 12 goals in their last three games.

He explained:  “It’s always hard when you implement a new style and it takes time to get used to it, but with the way the lads have been playing it has been fantastic.

“Daniel Sturridge and Coutinho came in January and they have gelled well with the rest of the lads.

“The lads have been fantastic and every day they are working hard on the style, the tactical and technical style of their game, and good positioning, pressing and passing the ball better.

“You look at the 5-0 win against Swansea, 4-0 versus Wigan – both high scoring games and we could have even scored more with the way we played. We also played Arsenal and Manchester City and dominated them and were unlucky not to beat them.”