Philippe Coutinho closing in on new Liverpool deal

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Philippe Coutinho is close to signing a new four-and-a-half year deal with Liverpool according to the Daily Mail.

The Brazilian has been involved in negotiating an extension to his current contract and the result could see the playmaker remain on Merseyside until 2020.

Coutinho has become a regular in the Anfield side this season as consistent strong performances have seen him become one of the biggest threats in attack.

Such has been his form that Liverpool now want to guarantee a long-term future for the 22-year-old who moved from Inter Milan in 2013.

Keeping the 'magic' man

Following another impressive showing against Chelsea in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday, Reds manager Brendan Rodgers hailed Coutinho as he continues to build a relationship with newly adopted striker Raheem Sterling.

"He was outstanding the other night," Rodgers said of the man from Rio. "It was a difficult start to the season for him because if you think of Phil Coutinho, he has that bit of magic to make the key pass in the final third and combines with people ahead of him so well.

"Last year he had a [Luis] Suarez and a [Daniel] Sturridge to make those passes to and he could work well with their style.

"At the beginning of this season, he didn't have that. Probably until six or seven weeks ago, his ability to make that threaded pass through wasn't on because he didn't have that [energy and movement upfront]."

Thriving as Liverpool's No. 10

Liverpool's number 10 has very much slotted back into that role in the current 3-4-3 formation producing the through ball's for Sterling to run onto, indeed few will forget the blind pass he played to the young England international to score the winner against Burnley on Boxing Day, but it has also been his pace running at defenders that has made him such a handful for opposing teams and Rodgers believes there is more to come from Coutinho.

"We had to look at how to bring out the best in all our players, and once he's had mobility, energy and speed around him, it's lifted his game," he explained. 

"He's a class act, and he's still got so much growth and development to undertake here."

Becoming a top all-round midfielder

While his attributes in attack have been grabbing the most attention, the Brazilian has also shown off a work rate that could make him one of the best all round midfielders in the Premier League.

Despite his small stature and physique, Coutinho has a terrier-esque attitude always battling for the ball and shows good strength for someone his size.

Certainly he is one of the men Liverpool will turn to fill the void that will be left by Steven Gerrard's, his delivery from set pieces will certainly become another attribute Coutinho will be expected to improve and take over from once the captain heads to the LA Galaxy.

Rodgers eyes another Brazilian extension

While the Reds may be close to confirming a new deal for their attacking Brazilian, Rodgers is also eyeing an extension for his more defensive South American, Lucas Leiva.

Speculation has continued throughout much of January linking holding midfielder to a move away from Anfield mostly to Inter Milan. However, Rodgers is keen to keep one of the longest serving members of the squad in his ranks as he prepares for life after Gerrard.

"We can't have three or four leaving next season," he was quoted by FourFourTwo. "The intention will be to keep everyone, partly because of the mix in the group.

"Steven [Gerrard] will obviously be a loss, when you are losing someone of that calibre of man and player it would be a loss to any club, but you move on."

Taking a senior role

"For the younger players to develop their potential they are going to need that seniority around them. You can't just have a whole group of young players," Rodgers added.

Indeed Lucas is also enjoying a rebirth of sorts as a regular in the first-team. His ability as a holding midfielder has rarely been doubted and with Emre Can both have helped calm what was becoming a very nervy defensive line.

Away from current vice-captain Jordan Henderson, Lucas could also be considered one of the candidates for the armband and in a time where the kind of loyalty Gerrard has shown Liverpool over his 17-year career is now incredibly rare, keeping Lucas at Anfield must be one of the top priorities.

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