Speaking from the Celtic training camp in Dubai, Brendan Rodgers gave an insight into what made him bring in Coutinho to Liverpool and how he helped turn him into a Barcelona player.
The little Brazillian made the move to the Camp Nou at the weekend after a whole year of speculation.
The former Liverpool boss spoke of the rare talent Coutinho had and the willingness to see him adapt his game to be able to make it.
“When I took Phil into Liverpool he was playing in Italy, not in the team,”
“He was a young player and when we had the chance we brought him in for £8.5m from Inter Milan and then people wondered is he going to be physically big enough.
“I’d seen him play as a young player for Vasco de Gama and then Inter Milan and I’d seen him play at 18 with Wesley Sneijder and Eto’o, so you could just tell he was a player. He just needed the opportunity and he came over and he was phenomenal, obviously, in my time and then he continued”
Speaking of Coutinho’s natural talent, it was always about nurturing the player and will even give Celtic fans a glimpse as to what Rodgers looks for in young players when he brings them to the club.
“He was a magician with the football and he’s been that since he was 11 years of age. I’ve seen some of the old Futsal images of him and he was amazing.
“So he’s always had that, that has always been his strength, so it was a matter of ‘Okay how we can integrate that in the British game that is a more physically tough league.’
“So we would play him in various positions. Start him off as a wide player, play as a ten, he played as a false nine for me, as a striker – then play in midfield as a central.
“More work with the strength and conditioning team then his natural football strength came into it as he got adapted to the way of working. That was how he could develop in order to sustain the level of performance.”
“Obviously it’s sad for Liverpool but they’ve made a huge investment in the player, got a huge return, and then he gets the chance to go and play with his mate, Mr Suarez. They teamed up very well and were very close when they played together with me at Liverpool.”
Brendan Rodgers is getting his Celtic side prepared for the second half of their season where they chase the chance of a double treble. First up for the champions will be Brechin in the Scottish Cup, not so glamorous but pivotal as they chase another treble.