Belfast Telegraph

Coutinho impresses Pele

Pele has been impressed by compatriot Philippe Coutinho and is looking forward to seeing the Liverpool man in action against Manchester United.

The talented 22-year-old was seen as a bit of a gamble when the Reds forked out £8.5million to bring him over from Inter Milan.

That deal now looks like a bargain, though, as Coutinho has been one of the stars of the Premier League season.

Such form has seen the midfielder work his way back into the Brazil set-up and led to praise from Pele, who will be at Liverpool's derby encounter with United on Sunday.

"Oh yes (I like Coutinho) - no doubt, no doubt," the Brazil great told Press Association Sport.

"He is an excellent player and intelligent, but we have a lot of individuals in Brazil. Unfortunately we cannot play with all the players we have."

Coutinho is in the Brazil squad for the forthcoming friendlies against France and Chile, which follow Sunday's match - an encounter Pele will attend as a guest of SUBWAY.

"It is going to be a great game, no doubt about that," he said. "This a top fixture and good to see."

Coutinho is part of the new breed Brazil coach Dunga is trusting to make up for last summer's World Cup embarrassment.

Brazil were not the only country to underwhelm, with England another country failing to meet expectations.

The early exit of English sides in Europe has increased concerns over the quality of football in the country, yet Pele is not worried for the home of football.

"I think the level of football in England is top," he said. "Last year there were some surprises, not only with the English team at the World Cup.

"I made a lot of interviews in Europe before the World Cup and saw some of Germany's games, so I said the Germans were very well prepared."

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