LIVERPOOL // Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has backed Philippe Coutinho to take his game to the next level after he inspired the Reds to a 4-0 win over Borussia Dortmund in their final pre-season fixture at Anfield on Sunday.
Coutinho will be expected to carry much of Liverpool’s creative threat in the final third of the pitch following the record sale of Uruguay forward Luis Suarez to Barcelona.
The Brazilian capped a fine individual display against Dortmund with a goal and an assist and Rodgers predicted even more from the 22-year-old playmaker as Liverpool bid to go one better than last season, when they finished runners-up in the Premier League to Manchester City.
“He is so gifted as a player,” Rodgers said. “The supporters appreciated him against Dortmund because of the level of the opposition,” Rodgers said.
“His ability is magical in tight situations. He doesn’t get marked, tempts defenders out and his weight of passes.
“I just think he needs to add sustainability. He needs to do that on the big stage, and he’ll get that opportunity.”
The Northern Irishman added: “He will show at that level he’s a top player. It’s about sustaining that level of performance and doing that on the big stage.
“I see him over the next few years being a on the world level for Liverpool and Brazil.”
Coutinho was instrumental in Liverpool’s opening goal in the 10th minute when he played a first-time pass which sent Daniel Sturridge clear and he angled a shot past Dortmund goalkeeper Mitchell Langerak into the corner of the net.
Dortmund looked rusty and were punished for a lack of concentration from a Steven Gerrard corner five minutes later, with the unmarked Dejan Lovren allowed time and space to head home from inside the six-yard box.
Shortly after half-time the home side put the result beyond doubt when Raheem Sterling seized upon a misplaced pass and found the unmarked Coutinho who swivelled and then placed it into the net past the hapless Langerak.
Midfielder Jordan Henderson, who had been full of endeavour and energy throughout, tapped home Liverpool’s fourth from close range just after the hour mark.
Rodgers also praised Croatia centre-back Lovren, a pre-season signing from Southampton, who marshalled Liverpool’s defence with authority alongside Martin Skrtel.
“Dejan was perfect, what I’ve been looking for since Jamie Carragher left -- a dominant, number one centre-back, who reads it well, with good guidance of the back four and team -- and his qualities of range of passing too.
“Like he showed us last season he’s dominant in the box at the other end, and I thought he was excellent.
“And Javier Manquillo at 19 playing first game at Anfield having joined this week was very good too. He got tight to players and got forward as well.
“I was delighted with the result, Dortmund have been one of Europe’s top teams for three or four seasons.
“You saw the quality we have; we got four really good goals and could have had a few more.”
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