Staying at Liverpool
After a string of sensational performances made Philippe Coutinho an integral part of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool revolution, former World Cup winner Lucio tells Pete Hall that his “great friend” can become one of the best players in the world, and Anfield is the perfect stage for him to reach such lofty heights.
Defeat at Newcastle on Sunday was only Liverpool’s second loss of Jurgen Klopp’s reign in all competitions, having failed to replicate the scintillating attacking flair that the charismatic German has introduced since his arrival.
One possible reason for such an uninspiring showing on Tyneside was the absence of Philippe Coutinho, who has been at the centre of Liverpool’s creative network.
Brazilian defender Lucio likes what he sees from his fellow countryman – with whom he shared a dressing room at Inter Milan between 2009 and 2012 – and tipped his former team-mate for the very top, crediting himself for helping the 23-year-old in his early career.
“I am very happy that he is having success at Liverpool,” Lucio told Sky Sports. “There is potential to be the best player in the world, of that there is no doubt. But it will depend on what happens around him. He is only going to get better.
“When he was at Inter, he wasn’t playing and we got closer, and lived nearby to each other.
“My family got to know his family, and gave all our support, and we helped him achieve what he has with that support. Everything that he is doing now is down to his marriage and family. His attitude is perfect.”
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Coutinho is back in training ahead of Liverpool’s Europa League clash with FC Sion – handing Klopp a major boost as he looks to bounce back from his side’s meek display in the North East.
Barcelona have been heavily linked with a move for Coutinho in the British press, and Brazil team-mate Neymar and the Catalan club’s director Robert Fernandez both stating they think Coutinho could be a fit at the Nou Camp.
Speculation is likely to increase when Barca’s FIFA-imposed transfer embargo is lifted in January, but Lucio believes that with a plethora of No 10s in Luis Enrique’s squad, being the focal point of the Liverpool creative arsenal is the best place for Coutinho, for now.
“I think that is a personal decision for him [Barca move], but Barcelona have a lot of great players, but that can put a shade [sic] on his play,” Lucio added.
“Liverpool is the right place for him to become the best. He has his space, and can play where he wants.”
The veteran defender was speaking after his current team FC Goa had sealed their place in this season’s Indian Super League play-offs, and while admitting to being surprised by the standard of players in India, he believes the format has to change for the sport to grow.