Philippe Coutinho can be Liverpool’s main man for years to come, according to footballing icon Kaka.
The 33-year-old midfielder, best known for his spells with AC Milan and Real Madrid, has been signing the praises of his compatriot this week – with the man ten years his junior widely expected to follow in his footsteps in the Brazilian national team.
Kaka was a key part of the Brazil team that last won the World Cup, back in 2002, and Coutinho – who was left out of the squad for the 2014 tournament but has been a regular in the side ever since – is one of the great hopes of this era of Samba stars.
The 2007 Champions League winner, now plying his trade with Orlando City in the MLS, even suggested that our little magician could help fill the gargantuan shoes left behind by Steven Gerrard.
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It was certainly a Gerrard-esque moment of magic from Coutinho on Sunday, as he turned one point into three with a brilliant late winner from distance against Stoke City, and Kaka expects our starlet to continue improving over the coming weeks and months.
“I have been a big admirer of Coutinho and he can be a very important player for Liverpool and Brazil,” said Kaka, in quotes taken by the Daily Mirror.
“There will be a lot of expectation on him with Liverpool fighting to get back into the Champions League, but I know that he can handle it. One great player doesn’t make a team, but you can build a team around one great player, and I believe he can be that player.
“Coutinho is a humble guy. He won’t talk about being able to replace a legend like Steven Gerrard, and the truth is nobody could ever replace him, but with Gerrard gone they do need somebody to step up — and he can do that.”
Kaka also backed another Brazilian, Roberto Firmino, to be a success at Anfield this season, following his promising cameo at the Britannia Stadium.
“Firmino will be a big player for Liverpool, too, and will have a good relationship on the field with Coutinho, but the fans must give him time,” he added. “He has come for a big transfer fee, but still you must remember he is adjusting to a new league and that always takes time.”