Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers waxed lyrical about Philippe Coutinho after the in-form Brazil international pulled the strings in his side’s 2-0 win at home to Newcastle, but the Anfield gaffer may need to start reining in the praise if he wants to keep his best players.
In his post-match press conference, Rodgers said of the Selecao maestro:
“I thought he showed that he’s really up there with the very, very best in the most competitive league in the world…
“I played him in that role just in front of the centre-halves, thinking that we could exploit the space in between their midfield and the centre-halves and create space for players to make runs in behind. I thought he was sensational.”
There’s no doubt Coutinho played a blinder against the Toon, laying on two key passes, firing off five shots and completing an impressive seven dribbles, with WhoScored making the Brazilian their man-of-the-match.
It’s not the first time the 42-year-old has bubbled over with praise for Coutinho, having said this following his FA Cup fourth-round winner against Bolton:
“He’ll become world class in the next couple of years.”
The problem with Rodgers’ assessments is that such bigging-up of his players isn’t working out so well this season.
The Northern Irishman had this to say about Raheem Sterling after the England international’s two-goal salvo against Bournemouth in the Capital One Cup back in December:
“His best position is on the left which allows him to cut inside, but tonight he played a lot like Alexis Sanchez. Two good feet, finds space and isn’t afraid to play with his back to goal. He was outstanding.”
Sterling clearly agrees, having indicated since that he will reject any new contract offer from Liverpool in order to work “with world-class players day in, day out”, a kick in the teeth for the gaffer if ever there was one.
Captain-in-waiting Jordan Henderson is another Reds regular thought to be considering his future, after allegedly turning down a new £80,000 per week deal with the Merseyside giants. Rodgers said this about the former Sunderland midfielder only last month:
“Whether he is central or wide you can see his football intelligence, he breaks through lines with his power and pace and he has great composure.
“The crowd love him because he does the dirty work as well. I really think he will develop into a real world-class player.”
Champions League place-chasing rivals Manchester City are thought to be interested in each of the aforementioned trio, although Coutinho has only just signed a new contract at Anfield, so 1/10 about him still being at Liverpool by the close of the summer transfer window seems about right.
You can have 15/4 about Coutinho leaving Liverpool by 03/09/2015.