He is the man that scored two goals in a game that could lead to the departure of Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho. His name: Philippe Coutinho – the little Brazilian, whose flair has set the Premier League on fire since he put pen-to-paper at Anfield back at the start of 2013.
Shoot takes a look at the man whose brace at the Bridge could lead to Mourinho’s fate being sealed within the next few days.
Where did it all start for Coutinho?
He was born in 1992, into the Rocha district of Rio de Janeiro – the city of futsal. Coutinho was no different. Day after day, and night after night, he would play with his two elder brothers, and his ability was clear from a young age. At the insistence of his grandmother, he joined a local football academy; just months later his father was approached for him to join the Vasco da Gama youth set up – from this day forward a new life began as the aim to become a professional footballer became the priority.
What happened next?
Coutinho flourished and his flair was apparent. The turning point arguably in his career however came in July 2008, when Italian giants Inter Milan secured his signature. Despite remaining in Brazil on loan at the club that gave him everything for a further two years, he made the move to the capital of Italy in 2010. “Coutinho is the future of Inter” – the words of then head coach Rafael Benitez – who had recently joined the Italian giants from Liverpool.
He made his debut in a Europa League tie in August of 2010, however throughout the first two seasons, he didn’t make the impact he was wishing for in Italy as he drifted in and out of the first team.
This produced a real dilemma for the young Brazilian. Did he stay at Milan and pray that first team football would eventually come? Or did he move out somewhere on loan? He chose the latter, the most mature decision. He made the move to Spain and Espanyol where he developed a good relationship with Mauricio Pochettino, who of course now manages Spurs.
So how did he get to Anfield?
After impressing in La Liga, Coutinho was interesting some of the biggest clubs in European football, including Liverpool. In January 2013, he moved from Inter for a new adventure. Merseyside was his destination and he signed for Brendan Rodgers’ men for a reported £8.5 million. He quickly became a regular at Anfield and a fans’ favourite.
In 2014, he was at his peak of his career in front of the Kop as he was only a slip away from gaining Liverpool’s first league title since 1990. Weeks earlier, he scored a momentous goal against eventual champions Manchester City in a thrilling 3-2 win at Anfield.
The following season was a good one for him individually as he was nominated for the PFA Player of the Year. The highlight so far this season has to be his double against the champions.
What is he like for Brazil?
Committed and dedicated. It is hard to believe that a man who has been representing his country since under-14 level, has only made the odd appearance for his country at senior level. Then again, he is only 23.
Coutinho actually made his debut for the Brazilian national side when he was still a youngster, back in 2010, after starting in a friendly against Iran. However, things did not progress from that point and he was left out of the squad for his home World Cup in 2014 by then manager Luis Felipe Scolari.
But, following the 7-1 humiliation against Germany at the semi-final stage, a new manager was installed – Dunga. The 1994 World Cup winner gave the Liverpool midfielder his opportunity and Coutinho played a imperative part of the 2015 Copa America squad.
Why is he so dangerous?
Coutinho is said to be a stereotypical Brazilian number 10 with his flair, pace and agility earning him the nickname of the “little magician” on Merseyside. Current Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino, who managed him during his loan spell at Espanyol, compared him to Barcelona star Lionel Messi, whilst former Brazilian striker Careca compared him to Zico.
Although naturally being born right-footed, Coutinho can play with either foot and has the ability to shoot from distance – as we saw on the opening weekend of the season when he beat Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland from 30 yards to earn the Reds another three points.
Super Stat: Coutinho’s brace at the Bridge was his first in the Premier League since signing for the Reds back in January 2013.