Liverpool's shaky start to the season is finally starting to solidify, thanks to the form of one of the Premier Leagues most exciting players.
Philippe Coutinho signed for Liverpool in January of 2013 from Inter Milan, fighting off competition from Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino for his signature, who Coutinho played under at Espanyol.
At Inter the Brazilian youngster had been tipped to be 'the future of Inter' by chairman Massimo Moratti, so with no stranger to instant pressure he was assigned the No. 10 shirt at Anfield and instantly bagged a goal on his full debut.
Coutinho had been known to set the bar high early on, and the possibility of him becoming 'the future of Liverpool' was somewhere in the distance.
A handful of games from January to the end of the season saw Coutinho score 3 goals in 13 appearances. A return that showed promise for the season to come but the clubs overall position hinted there was work to be done, and inspiration to be sought after.
The archetypal attacking midfielder played a much bigger role in his first full season, one which Liverpool staged an impressive title surge being pipped to the post only by Man City.
Coutinho played in behind Luis Suarez as the Uruguayan enjoyed a fantastic final season for The Reds, one that somewhat eclipsed a pretty impressive full season for Liverpool’s 'little magician' a season that shockingly saw him left out of Brazil's World Cup Squad.
Big changes were made in the wake of Suarez’s departure, most of which were in vain; Balotelli's love/hate relationship with the English media continued to haunt him on the pitch as the striker moved to Liverpool in search of retribution and goals, neither of which prevailed.
Sturridge got injured early in the season, Balotelli was misfiring to say the least and Sterling hadn't been utilised as a centre forward just yet so Coutinho had little in front to work with, passes went stray and balls often dwelt on making it a frustrating start to the season.
Coutinho working his magic
Tactics changed, so did Coutinho, with November approaching Sterling was pushed up front giving the forward line extra pace and trickery that had been lacking, allowing new signing Emre Can and Jordan Henderson more game time in the midfield and thus freeing up Coutinho to work his magic. And it didn't take long for him to wave his wand on Liverpool’s season as a string of impressive results followed.
Since then, Liverpool’s run of great form has been personified in the genius that is Coutinho, being urged to 'have a go' more often by Rodgers has seen him become more adventurous and Liverpool securing back to back wins against Southampton and Man City, a big statement for the side vying for a top four finish.
Coutinho new contract, which keeps him at Anfield until 2020, may be the reason that he's scored three in seven, although Liverpool fans would point to the tactical nous of Rodgers and the reworking of Liverpool’s midfield.
Liverpool's future is bright with Coutinho
The real reason is unclear, but what's completely transparent is the fact that Liverpool’s new hope continues to fit into the mould of a Premier League star and his confidence is becoming more and more instilled in the Liverpool side.
As always, there is still room for improvement, the Brazilian typifies his nation’s greats with the stereotype of flair and creativity often overcompensating for his passing and strength. However the fact he's only 22 shows he's got plenty of time to improve and his work rate emphasises his commitment to do so.
With Liverpool pushing on for Champions League football next season the side look to be mirroring the confidence and ambition of the young Brazilian with big performances yielding big results and it seems at Anfield that things are looking more and more bright as the season enters its final stages.
Is Coutinho the Premier League's best No. 10? Have your say in the comments below!
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