Liverpool schemer reveals Premier League rival interest

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Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho has revealed that he held talks with Southampton before joining the Reds in January, with Mauricio Pochettino attempting to persuade the playmaker to join his revolution on the South Coast.

Coutinho completed an £8.5m switch to Anfield earlier this year, after finding first-team opportunities limited at Serie A giants Inter Milan.

The 21-year-old has flourished on Merseyside in an advanced midfield role but revealed that Pochettino wanted to work with him again following a spell on loan at Espanyol last season, rejecting his advances to join the Reds despite being impressed with the Argentine coach.

He told The Telegraph: "The last time I spoke to Pochettino was just before I joined Liverpool (when he tried to sign him).

"I know from my time working with him he is a very impressive person. It is no surprise to me at all to see Southampton have started the season so well.

"He is extremely dedicated to training, making his players work very hard. If there is something not correct in training, he will push to make it 100 per cent correct."

Reds boss Brendan Rodgers lost Coutinho for the best part of two months following a promising start to the season, with the skillful schemer requiring surgery to repair a damaged shoulder.

After spending six weeks on the sidelines the Brazilian starlet returned against Arsenal and Fulham in successive appearances before the international break, now eyeing a start in tomorrow afternoon's Merseyside derby at Goodison Park.

Rodgers will hope that a key creative figure can make the difference against local rivals Everton, providing a supply line for star strike duo Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez.

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