• Premier League

Coutinho can be Champions League star, says Rodgers

ESPN staff
August 11, 2014
Coutinho's great pre-season continues

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes Philippe Coutinho will make a big impact in the Champions League this season.

The playmaker impressed in the 4-0 thrashing of Borussia Dortmund on Sunday and, with European football making a return to Anfield this year, Rodgers has tipped Coutinho to shine on the world stage.

"He's come into this country and league, and lit it up with his quality. It's now about doing that on the big stage - the Champions League, and he's got the chance to go and do that," Rodgers said.

"I think that even at that level, he will show what great qualities he has. I really see him over the next four or five years, being a big force in world football, both for Brazil and Liverpool.

"He's an incredible operator, just magical to watch and he's the kind of player that supporters come to see. We're very glad to have him."

Rodgers impressively steered Liverpool to a second place finish in the Premier League last term, but knows he will have to handle the demands of Champions League football without top scorer Luis Suarez, who left Merseyside for Barcelona earlier this summer.

However, despite heavily strengthening his squad ahead of the club's return to Europe, Rodgers insists Liverpool have a "magical" player in Coutinho and the Brazilian will step up in Suarez's absence.

"He's so gifted as a player," Rodgers said. "He's just magical. His ability to get out of tight situations and his view of the game is incredible.

"That's his best position - playing between the lines, he doesn't get marked. He drops to the back of midfield, he draws defenders out, and the weight of his passes is phenomenal.

"He was outstanding, and what he's added to his game is that relentless pressing. He's very strong under pressure on the ball, and puts pressure on the opposition when he's not on the ball."

Rodgers is preparing to offer Coutinho a new deal at Liverpool, which would effectively end Sunderland's hopes of securing the attacker on a permanent basis.

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