When Philippe Coutinho signed for Liverpool from Inter Milan for £8.5 million in January 2013, not too many fans in England knew much about him.
However, three-and-a-half seasons later, the Brazilian is, arguably, Liverpool’s most important player.
Having only just turned 24, Coutinho still has around 10 years of playing at the top level - and Liverpool supporters will be praying the majority of them are spent at Anfield.
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Many believe that this season could be the year that Coutinho establishes himself as one of the best playmakers in Europe. And he’s certainly started this campaign perfectly.
He hauled Jurgen Klopp’s side back level in their opening Premier League match against Arsenal with a sensational free-kick on the stroke of half-time.
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He then made it 3-1 to Liverpool in the 56th-minute with a superb finish with Nathaniel Clyne’s cross, whilst producing a dazzling display before being substituted with 20 minutes remaining.
While there were plenty of people raving about Coutinho’s display, one former player took it a step further.
Emile Heskey, who made 223 appearances for Liverpool, believes that the Liverpool player is so good he can even rival Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. No, really.
Messi and Ronaldo may have won the previous eight Ballon d’Or’s between them, but Heskey feels that Coutinho could soon rival the incredible duo.
Heskey on Coutinho
"I think he's got the ability to [match Messi and Ronaldo],” he told Omnisport, per Goal.com.
“I think he's got just as much ability as them and we've seen it in spurts. We need to see it more on a constant level now. His skills are phenomenal.
"I've seen it when he was at Inter and some of the videos that you see from there in training ... wow. He's a phenomenal player.
"And some of his visions... You know when you are closing someone down and you think that you've got him and he does a trick and you're wondering 'how did he actually do that and how did he know I was coming in behind him?' You're thinking he's got eyes in the back of his head. He's got that sort of vision.
"Those players come round only once in a lifetime really. He's a phenomenal player. That's why he's going to have teams interested in him, but he is a massively important player to Liverpool.”
There’s no doubting that Coutinho is a special player but, can he really rival Messi and Ronaldo for the Ballon d’Or? It’s highly unlikely.
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