Philippe Coutinho: 10 things on Bayern Munich's Barcelona loanee and Brazil super talent
Bayern Munich have secured the services of one of the world's most naturally talented footballers in Philipp Coutinho, who has joined on loan from Barcelona, pending a medical.
By means of introduction, bundesliga.com has dug up 10 interesting facts about the 27-year-old Brazilian.
1) Growing up in Rio
Like millions of Brazilian kids before him, Coutinho began his footballing education on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, growing up not far from the famous Maracana stadium. After watching his older brothers Cristiano and Leandro do battle with their friends, young Philippe soon began to make the concrete pitches in the neighbourhood of Rocha his own, and eventually – on the advice of a friend's grandmother – joined the Vasco da Gama youth academy.
2) Big break in Italy
Coutinho was soon making waves beyond his own borders. Inter Milan were particularly determined to get their hands on him, with sporting director Marco Branca travelling to Rio to see the highly-rated youth international in action. Real Madrid were also alerted to the 16-year-old's precocious talent by their Brazilian striker Robinho, but ended up missing the boat as Coutinho signed for the Nerazzurri. Ineligible to play in Europe until turning 18, he was immediately loaned back to Vasco da Gama for two seasons, meaning he could continue his development on home soil before heading to Italy in 2010.
3) Adapting to Europe
Injuries and limited game time made for a frustrating start to life in Europe, however, with Coutinho only making 18 Serie A appearances in his first two seasons with Inter. Yet the Brazil No.11 believes his tough early years on the old continent prepared him for the highly-challenging environment of professional football. "Everything I went through there helped shape me," he told CNN. "Things were not going my way but this was a very, very important period for me. It was the hardest point of my career because it was the first time I had been away from home and I had to start proving myself from scratch."
4) Pleasing Pochettino
Coutinho spent six months on loan at Spanish side Espanyol between January and June 2012, playing under Mauricio Pochettino. The current Tottenham Hotspur boss was a fan of his young Brazilian charge, who scored five goals in 16 outings before returning to Inter. "Philippe's Brazilian and, as is the case with most Brazilians, he has special magic in his feet. Aside from that magic, he also has an amazing work-rate. What's important about him is he is a good lad, a good kid – a great, humble person. It is really clear to me is that Coutinho's a really responsible player, really dedicated to his teammates."
5) Maturity in Liverpool
If the early years in Brazil and Europe highlighted Coutinho's potential, it was a five-year stint at Liverpool that truly revealed his world-class credentials. In 201 games for The Reds, the Brazilian scored 54 goals and assisted a further 45 as a Premier League title challenge started to seem like a distinct possibility under the guidance of Jürgen Klopp. Five of those goals came in the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League campaign which saw the Merseysiders reassert themselves on the European stage and get to the final, which they lost to Real Madrid. His group-stage goals earned him a winter move to Barcelona which paradoxically did not improve his chances of winning European club football's greatest prize, with Liverpool eventually lifting the title in 2019 and eliminating Coutinho's Barca in the most dramatic of semi-finals.
6) Suarez's special welcome
That move to Barca saw Coutinho reunited with Luis Suarez, one of the other key architects of Liverpool's recent resurgence, as the Catalan club's most expensive signing in history. Upon arriving in Barcelona in January 2018, it was Suarez who made a point of helping his former teammate settle in. Indeed, the Uruguayan forward ensured he would have a home to move into, in his own neighbourhood. "He saw that a house next to his became available," Coutinho revealed. "He didn't know I was coming for certain but he liked the idea. It's a kind gesture. I know Luis will help us to feel at home."
7) 'Little magician'
Coutinho's silky skills and ability to do things which seem impossible earned him the nickname "The Little Magician" while he was in Liverpool. The English club decided to put his magical skills to the test too, setting him up with a real magician, or at least a mind wizard, to see if he did indeed possess supernatural powers. All the mind wizard could prove was that Coutinho is indeed a magician, as he managed to replicate a picture drawn by then teammate Lucas Leiva just by reading his teammate's mind. Fans of Inter, Liverpool and Barcelona already knew Coutinho was reading his teammates' minds anyway, though.
8) Family memories
While Coutinho can read people's minds, he still has an indelible reminder of those closest to him painted all the way down his arms. Tattooed down his arms are tributes to his parents, two brothers and his wife Aine, all those people who have played such an important role in his career and life and helped him to get where he has got today. Thanks to their support, some may say Coutinho's career has been the stuff of fairy tales, and that may explain why one of his latest tattoos – on his stomach – is of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse.
9) Great love story
Coutinho owes much of his happiness to his wife Aine, who was by his side in the difficult days when he was trying to make it in the Vasco da Gama academy. The pair met at a party through a mutual friend and, well, it was a classic case of love at first sight. "Aine plays a huge part in everything I do," Coutinho said. The couple married in 2012 and have two children together, while her Portuguese roots helped him obtain Portuguese citizenship in 2018, thus allowing him to count as a European Union citizen and not be subjected to restrictions on overseas footballers in Europe. More than that, though, the pair became known as Barcelona's 'great love story'.
10) Family man
Coutinho has shown how much his family means to him with his tattoos and his well-publicised relationship with childhood sweetheart Aine, and the depth of his family ties was once used by former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers to pull on a few heartstrings and get the best out of him. "The manager had spoken to the mothers of every player in the team, he'd been reading a message before every game for months and finally my turn had come," Coutinho recalled in an interview with CNN. "I was really overwhelmed. It said she loved me, is proud of me, is always with me and missing me. There was more, but those are just the words I needed to hear. It filled me up. The other players were also really moved because every week, regardless of whose mother it was with the message, we were all inspired and emotional. We were getting really strong, powerful words and it pushed us so much."
So if Bayern are to get the best out of Coutinho, Mum's the word.
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