Diego Milito believes Philippe Coutinho has what it takes to succeed at Inter, despite being linked with a move away from the club.
The 20-year-old joined the Giuseppe Meazza side from Vasco da Gama in July 2010, but initially struggled to make an impact in Serie A.
However, expectations have been piqued again after Coutinho impressed on loan at Espanyol in the second half of last season.
“Coutinho? He’s a fantastic player. We all knew he was a bit special,” Milito was quoted as saying on the official Inter website.
“The time in Spain has done him good and he’ll help us a lot this year. He’s different to other players.”
Coutinho scored in Inter’s 2-0 friendly win over Koper at the weekend.
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Philippe Coutinho is confident that his loan spell at Espanyol has made him a better player and is now setting his sights on proving his worth at Inter next season.
The Brazilian was farmed out on loan to the Liga side for the second half of the campaign after struggling to secure regular first-team action at the Giuseppe Meazza, and the attacking midfielder is keen to begin working under new coach Andrea Stramaccioni.
“I am a new Coutinho after my spell at Espanyol. I got a bit depressed at Inter because I did not get much playing time,” Coutinho told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“That won’t happen again, though. Getting regular first-team action was vital for me.
“I really like Stramaccioni’s football philosophy. He’s always ready to talk with his players, and I hope to develop under his guidance.
“He gives you a lot of freedom in attack, although you obviously have to help out in defence as well.
“I have to think about myself now and do my utmost to secure a spot in the first team. I want to succeed here.”
The 19-year-old joined Inter from Vasco da Gama in the summer of 2010 for a reported fee of €4 million.
“I’m happy, the team is doing well and we’re improving every day. Hopefully we’ll be in good shape come the start of the season. The coach talks to all of us, I’m trying to help out more when we’re not in possession and in attack. I feel good and I’m delighted, thanks Inter.”
“I’m happy I’m here and part of this group and I want to grow with them. Had I thought of going on loan again this season? I just concentrate on playing. It’s not my place to talk about things like that. I’m here at Inter and I’m planning to do my best for the Nerazzurri.”
Brazil’s soccer is arguably no better country in the nation that pushes out good, young players. The next in a long line of starlets could be Inter Milan’s Philippe Coutinho, who followed a list of greats to Europe, and he’s one to keep your eye on.
The last young Brazilian to earn this much attention is also based in Milan, as A.C. Milan picked up Alexandre Pato in 2007 as a 17-year-old. Inter felt they had to go out and match their city rivals, with whom they share the San Siro, and bought Pato in 2008 as a 16-year-old, but they allowed him to stay in Brazil to play with Vasco da Gama. Since then, Coutinho has been brought along slowly, making seven starts and four substitute appearances for the club. He has yet to score a goal for Inter, but he has notched a couple of assists and has shown glimpses of the talent that made him so coveted by the club. Coutinho is an attacking midfielder who can use either foot, and it’s likely he will be used as a second striker at points in his career as well.
This can only bode well for Brazil, who will host the World Cup in 2014 and are looking to add to their record of five wins in the world’s greatest tournament. Coutinho scored three goals in five matches for the Under-17 side, and made his first senior appearance in a friendly against Iran in October. By 2014, Coutinho should be playing solid minutes for Inter (or some European club) and if he is, Pato and Coutinho could be the leading forces behind Brazil’s World Cup run.