- Premier League
Rodgers insists Coutinho can handle Premier League
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists Philippe Coutinho can handle the physicality of Premier League football and admits he is surprised by the midfielder's seamless transition to life at Anfield.
The 20-year-old capped off a memorable debut season at Liverpool with his third goal for the club in the 1-0 victory over QPR on Sunday, adding to his five assists since joining the club in January.
And Rodgers has no qualms over the Brazilian's strength on the ball and anticipates Coutinho will continue his rise next season.
"Don't worry, he can look after himself," Rodgers said. "You can see he can use his body if needs be.
"His body work is great, and he's worked on it. Of course, he has to become adapted to the physical game here because it's very physical. But you can see already he has man strength.
"He's 20 years of age, but he's not a boy. He has genuine man strength. That will grow even more the longer he is in the country and gets physically that bit stronger and gets up with the tempo.
"When you bring somebody in during January, you hope they can make an impact. But you are also looking at it as a six-month adaptation period before you get the best out of them.
"So we are all pleasantly pleased and surprised by how well he has done. His numbers tell you the story in terms of goals and assists. That's his job, to score goals and create goals."
Liverpool reportedly paid £8.5million to sign Coutinho from Inter Milan and Rodgers predicts the Reds will reap the rewards from what may go down as a bargain addition.
"He's a real find for us in terms of the price we have paid. Hopefully his value will be much greater than the cost in the coming years," he said. "His goals have proven he is going to be a top player and teams will want to close down the space he has more.
"Even though he has experience, he's only 20 and we can all see he is a wonderful talent. It's about that intelligence and finding the spaces for him, because when he has that, he can open up teams. He is small in stature, and the best players very rarely get tackled because they are so bright and clever."