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Philippe Coutinho almost world class, says Brendan Rodgers

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Brendan Rodgers believes that Philippe Coutinho is almost a world class player, however the Brazilian must add more goals to his game to achieve that status.

The 23-year-old has hit a fantastic run of form and assisted both of Liverpool's goals during his side's 2-0 victory against West Ham United on Saturday.

Coutinho has racked up four assists so far this season in the Premier League, however his goal tally sits at a disappointing mark of just two.

Rodgers: Coutinho must score more

The playmaker has started every game since the Reds' 1-1 draw with FC Basel in the Champions League on December 16 and been a menace for defenders but has not been clinical enough in front of goal.

And Rodgers feels although Coutinho has been highly impressive, he must improve his finishing to be rated as one of the world's best players.

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“Young Phil is performing at a real high level and it’s a great to see because he’s a little magician with the ball,” the Liverpool boss was quoted as saying by the Liverpool Echo.

“The rhythm of his game is good. I’m trying to just manage him because he’s played a lot of games.

“His courage and bravery to get on the ball is fantastic. If he can continue to improve – he can improve his goalscoring ability – then he will get into that bracket of being world class.

“He’s come into his own over the past couple of months.

“That’s purely because of the movement in front. He’s a creator. He looks for the last pass.

“For that type of player, you need that movement in front of the ball and people to penetrate in behind.

“At the beginning of the season we didn’t quite have that in the team. Phil was maybe on the ball that bit longer and getting caught more than he usually would. But you see him now and he’s in a real good moment.”

Magician on the ball

In Liverpool's past few games, Coutinho has been a joy to watch.

Over the two leg's against Chelsea in the League Cup semi-final, the attacking midfielder was the best player on the pitch for both games. 

His intelligence to find space against a compact Blues' defence and midfield was effortless and glided past any challenger with his quick feet like a magician.

At the start of the season, Coutinho generally struggled and often lost the ball too easily, too often and many doubted if he could thrive without Luis Suarez ahead of him.

The former Inter Milan man had Mario Balotelli ahead of him for the most part as well as Rickie Lambert on other occasions and their movement was inefficient for Coutinho to work the ball and create chances.

It became frustrating for Kopites to watch as Coutinho has been top-class during the 2013/14 season, linking superbly with Suarez and Daniel Sturridge.

Since Rodgers decided to play Raheem Sterling in the number nine role, it saw the Brazilian once again flourish. Sterling's pace and movement dragged defenders away, creating plenty of space for Coutinho to play his smart passes in to or to drive at the opposition's back-four.

The return of Sturridge will too carry on Coutinho's resurgence. The pair have an excellent rapport together and showed that on Saturday, when the Brazilian found Sturridge with a smart pass and the England international cleverly finished his effort for his first goal in five months.

Shooting an issue

When looking at Coutinho's overall game, his shooting has to be flagged up.

Too often, he is in a fantastic position with the ball at his feet however fails to take the opportunity he has and usually scuffs his shot wide or into the goalkeepers hands.

It is the one area of Coutinho's game that is generally poor and looks to lean over the ball too much and needs to improve significantly.

The attacker said last week he was staying behind after training for shooting practise and hopefully that extra training will be presented on the field in the next few weeks.

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Topics:
Football
Premier League
Liverpool

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