Philippe Coutinho has committed his future to Liverpool and insists his best is yet to come for the reds.
Coutinho has been a shining light for the Reds since joining from Inter Milan three and a half years ago with his 12-goal haul last season. But when asked which of his goals is his favourite, he finds it difficult to choose – before picking a popular choice.
“It’s not easy to pick one because every goal is so special to me,” Coutinho told the Liverpool Echo.
“It’s difficult to describe the feeling of scoring. But if I had to pick one then I’d go for the goal at Old Trafford last season. That was a nice goal against United.
“It came at an important point in the game against one of our big rivals and it swung the tie in our favour.
“My wife was there watching and she told me that our supporters were singing my name throughout half-time. That was great to hear.”
That awesome moment in the second leg of the last 16 of the Europa League was superb Coutinho – running away down the left, outsmarting Guillermo Varela and dinking an excellent finish past David De Gea.
His 12-goal haul last season was his best for the Reds but he has kicked on impressively so far this term. Coutinho has been a driving force for Jurgen Klopp’s free-scoring side in their impressive start to the campaign.
He leads the way this season with four goals – taking his total Liverpool tally to 32 in 152 appearances – but insists there’s plenty more to come from him.
“Maybe this is the best I’ve played but I still think I can improve,” he said.
“This is just the start. I always want to improve and do better.
“I want to be an important player for this team. I want to help my team-mates to achieve great things.”
Coutinho arrived at Anfield in a £8.5million move from Inter Milan in January 2013, a move which has proved to be one of the most shrewd pieces of business Liverpool have done in the Premier League era.
There were speculations in the summer about his future at Anfield amid talk of interest from Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona. But there was never any danger of the 24-year-old, who is under contract until 2020, moving on. There is a bond between Coutinho and the Kop which won’t be broken easily.
“Liverpool feels like my home,” Coutinho said.
“I feel happy, settled and comfortable here with the city and the people.
“It’s an amazing city. I enjoy going to the cinema with my wife and to restaurants in town.
“The supporters are very nice. Hearing people singing my name, it inspires me. The fans here make me feel amazing.
“They give all the players confidence. They are there for us in every game.”
His wife Aine has been with him every step of the way, from his Milan struggles till today. The childhood sweethearts met at a party when he was just 14. When Coutinho scores, he looks for her in the stand.
“She has been so important for me. She is always there for me,” he said.
“She stopped everything in Brazil to come to Europe for me. I have been very lucky to have her help and support. I am very grateful for what she’s done for me.
“If I don’t have a good game and I go home not too happy, she talks with me.”
Coutinho is dedicated both to his profession and his family. His array of tattoos include tributes to Aine, his parents and his brothers Cristiano and Leandro.
This summer there was a new addition as during some time off in Rio after the Copa America he had the image of their daughter Maria inked on his right arm. She will celebrate her first birthday in December.
Maria is now a regular at Anfield with Coutinho taking her out on the pitch with him before the Premier League clash with Tottenham back in April.
“Whenever my wife comes to watch, Maria comes along too,” Coutinho said.
“She brought me luck against Tottenham as I scored in that game. I will have to take her on to the pitch with me more often! At the moment she doesn’t understand anything but in a few years she will understand.
“Everything I do is for my family. Every December my parents come here for Christmas and I visited them in Rio after the Copa America.
“Whenever I go back, my family and friends are always in the airport to greet me. My house is always full of people. Maybe 20 or more.
“I speak to my mother and father regularly. They watch every game and send messages to me before we play.”
They will be up early in Rio on Saturday morning in order to watch Coutinho in action against Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium, a team he scored his first Liverpool goal against in a 5-0 victory at Anfield in February 2013.
Since then he has won a number of personal accolades. He has cleared the board at the club’s annual awards for the past two seasons.
But the silverware he truly cherishes has eluded him. There have been some agonising near misses such as the Premier League title challenge of 2013/14, as well as defeat in the finals of the League Cup and the Europa League last term.
“What I really want is to lift the trophies for this club,” he said.
“That’s the most important thing. You want to look back at the end of your career and think about what you have won.
“We have been so close but we don’t want this any more. We don’t want to just go close. We want to take that next step. Every day we work hard in training to get there.”
Coutinho credits Klopp with taking his game to the next level over the past 12 months and is excited about the potential of the squad the manager has assembled.
He knows better than to make any bold predictions at this stage but admits the Reds have a perfect platform to build on.
“Jurgen has helped me to develop a lot as a player,” Coutinho added.
“I really enjoy working with this manager. He has given me a lot of confidence.
“The team plays differently now. We play high pressure football. This style suits us and this manager is so important for Liverpool.
“I believe in this squad. The manager has changed a lot. He has changed the mentality of the group.
“We are in a good way. We have a good team, but we have to show it every day and in every game.
“We can’t look too far ahead. We have to take it step by step, game by game. Maybe at the end we can win.”