Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho has spoken of the missed opportunity to work with current Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho after the two failed to overlap at Inter Milan.
Although a deal was made in 2008 between Inter and Vasco de Gama, Coutinho, at the time 16, remained on loan for two years until his 18th birthday. By that time Mourinho had already left for Real Madrid, and been replaced by Rafa Benitez.
Coutinho told the Daily Mail: “I met Mourinho and had a couple of conversations with him… I never got the chance to work with him as he left in the summer I joined.”
The Brazilian was speaking ahead of Tuesday night's encounter with Mourinho's Chelsea in the semi-final of the Capital One Cup, with a second to follow at Stamford Bridge in a week's time.
And while there may be an element of regret he was unable to work with the esteemed Blues boss, his departure enabled Coutinho to work under Benitez - an experience he valued greatly.
Benitez, who won four cups while Liverpool manager including the Champions League in 2005, took charge of Inter Milan after Mourinho’s departure, and remains a firm favourite at Anfield.
Coutinho stated that Benitez had played a key role in him settling at the Milan club. He said: “[Benitez] was very helpful. Training was good but I didn’t play well at Inter. I didn’t have confidence.”
Signed by Brendan Rodgers two years ago for £8.5million, Coutinho has gone on to be one of the Northern Irishman's better signings. Although slumping in form earlier in the season, the player’s recent performances suggest why Rodgers holds him in such high esteem.
Coutinho admits that Liverpool’s season started slowly but, following an upturn in form, he accredits their improving performances to Rodgers' change of tactics.
“The major difference is the system we are now playing” he said. “We have more options in each position”
Suggesting there are more important things than signing a new contract, Coutinho did imply that he would be inclined to re-sign at the end of the season. With just 18 months left on his current deal, he said: “Its is not a hot topic for me signing a new contract…but I would be very happy to stay here… I want to win trophies here of my own.”