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Coutinho on verge of new Liverpool deal

ESPN staff
August 5, 2014 « Van Gaal hints Rooney will be United captain | United's Zaha looks forward to bright future »
Brendan Rodgers wants Philippe Coutinho to score more goals © Getty Images
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Liverpool will shortly offer Philippe Coutinho a new contract, manager Brendan Rodgers says.

Coutinho, 22, has become a key player for the Anfield club since his £8 million move from Inter Milan in January 2013 and Rodgers is keen to secure the playmaker long-term future at the club.

"A new contract for Philippe is something we will look to do over the summer," Rodgers said. "It's all in hand. He's a valuable player and a great asset to the club. He's come in here and shown his quality, and really developed as a young player.

"Now he's moving into the best years of his life as a footballer. He's 22 and hopefully by the time the next World Cup comes around he will be an important part of the Brazil team, I'm sure his best years will be at Liverpool."

Coutinho was left out of Brazil's squad for the recent World Cup in his homeland, which allowed him a summer off as he avoided the humiliation of their 7-1 semi-final defeat against Germany.

Rodgers said: "He came back to pre-season with a great level of fitness, right on the limit of his weight. He's in great condition, clearly worked hard in the off season and since he's come back we've seen in the games how strong and aggressive he is."

Coutinho started 28 Premier League matches last season as Liverpool finished runners-up to Manchester City. His contribution was more as a creative player, scoring just five times in the league during the campaign. However, Rodgers believes that goal ratio will get better.

The manager said: "He's a player I don't want to put too much pressure on with goals. When you have that quality and technique, you'll hope to score more goals and I'm sure that's something he will improve on this season."

Goals are at the forefront of Rodgers' thinking ahead of the new season as he continues his search to replace last season's top-scorer Luis Suarez.

Rodgers said it is "crucial" for the club to sign a new striker, having lost Suarez to Barcelona and Daniel Sturridge to a minor hamstring injury.

The club saw a move for Queens Park Rangers' Loic Remy collapse after his medical and have been linked with Swansea's Wilfried Bony as well as Mario Balotelli, although Rodgers' insists the Italian will not be moving to Merseyside this summer.

Rodgers has the £75 million he received for Suarez and has already signed Rickie Lambert, Divock Origi, Emre Can, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren and Lazar Markovic, meaning a new deal for Coutinho will round off a busy transfer window for the Welshman.

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