By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Philippe Coutinho has given Liverpool a boost by revealing he prefers the Premier League to Italian football.
The Brazilian, who has emerged as the Merseysiders’ outstanding player in the post-Luis Suarez era, has been linked with a move overseas, including to one of the Spanish superpowers Barcelona or Real Madrid.
But he has admitted that he struggled at former club Inter Milan and is settled in the English top flight.
Asked about why he did not thrive at Inter, Coutinho told the Daily Mail: “I wouldn’t blame anyone. It just didn’t work for me. I do like the style of football here in England more. It’s more intense and all the teams try to play football. It is better for me here.”
Coutinho, who joined Liverpool from Inter for £8.5million in January 2012, also had a spell on loan at Spanish club Espanyol, where he worked under the current Tottenham manager.
“It helped me, the style in Spain when I went to Espanyol,” the 23-year-old added. “And Mauricio Pochettino, who was the manager there at the time, gave me a lot of confidence. He always encouraged me to play and show my skills.
“And he told me to enjoy it. In that sense I have been lucky with all my managers. They have all encouraged me to play my game.”
Liverpool are privately adamant that Coutinho will not be sold and that they regard him as crucial to the plans of new manager Jurgen Klopp.
The Brazil international signed a five-year contract in February of this year and is adamant that he is not thinking about following Suarez and Raheem Sterling by making a big-money transfer next summer.
“For me I just think about the moment,” says Coutinho. “And at this moment I just want to give my best for the club. And help the club. Liverpool is a big club and always will be.”
Most immediately, that means an eagerly-awaited return to the starting line-up in Sunday’s Premier League clash against West Brom at Anfield after missing four matches with a hamstring injury.
Coutinho emerged unscathed after playing the last half-hour of Thursday’s goal-less draw against Sio in the Europa League in what were freezing conditions on an icy pitch.
Asked by the Daily Mail if Klopp makes Liverpool an even bigger club, he said: “With him coming it could attract more good players, for sure. He is a big manager. A top manager. He gives the players a lot of confidence. He has a lot of experience.
“He’s open to listening to the players as well, so it’s good. But, as I say, I just focus on now and doing the best for my team. I don’t really think about these other things.”