Belfast Telegraph

I owe Rodgers for believing in me: Coutinho

By Carl Markham

Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho believes Jurgen Klopp is making him a better player but admits he has a soft spot for former manager Brendan Rodgers.

The Brazil international hit a purple patch in late October/November with four goals in three matches, including one in the 4-1 thrashing of Sunday's Capital One Cup final opponents Manchester City, and is on track to beat the eight goals he got last season, which was his best scoring campaign at Anfield.

He believes he has already progressed under Klopp and the team are also improving.

"It feels like we are moving in the right direction under him and we believe we can fight for the big prizes and enjoy some special moments with the fans," Coutinho said.

"In training, we are working hard and enjoying his methods, which are helping to make us better players.

"Klopp has put his ideas forward and they are helping to make me an even better player.

"I have been lucky to work under some fine managers already in my career and they have each added an element to my game.

"The likes of (Rafael) Benitez, (Mauricio) Pochettino and Dunga are great coaches but I will always have a special gratitude to Brendan.

"He believed in me and brought me here. He gave me the opportunity to play for such a great club."

Meanwhile, Reds defender Kolo Toure is determined to fight for a new contract as his current deal enters its final weeks.

As it stands the former Ivory Coast international, who turns 35 in March, has three months left at Anfield as no new offer has been made by the club.

Toure signed a one-year extension last May but the pending summer arrival of Schalke centre-back Joel Matip on a free transfer would appear to suggest the former Arsenal and City centre-back is on his way out.

However, he is refusing to accept this is the end and has been encouraged by a recent run in the side which, due to injuries, has seen him start the last two matches.

"I've not been told anything. I am just enjoying every second of being at Liverpool Football Club," said Toure, who has made 16 appearances so far this season.

"I am a fighter. The future is not the most important thing for me. What's important is what's happening for me right now.

"I'm in the team at the moment and I am showing every game that I'm still here. It doesn't matter what other people say, I'm very happy and I always give 100 per cent for this club.

"Sometimes you can make people change their minds by performing well and that's my challenge right now. I can show people by my games that I'm still a top player. That's all I can do and I will fight until the end.

"I've not had any offers for next season yet but if I keep playing like I am at the moment then I'm sure doors will open."

Despite being Klopp's fourth-choice centre-back, Toure's performances have belied that with him putting in a man-of-the-match display in the goalless Europa League draw against Augsburg.

He is likely to start again in the second leg at Anfield this Thursday as he looks to secure his place in the Capital One Cup final against City.

"We can't think about Wembley because the next game is the most important one," he added.

"If you don't perform on Thursday, you won't play on Sunday. It's really important we win this second leg."

Belfast Telegraph


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