Philippe Coutinho insists he heads into 2013-14 high on confidence after a sparkling preseason for Liverpool — but outlined the areas he believes he needs to improve upon over the coming campaign.
The Brazilian picked up where he left off last campaign this summer, striking three goals over the course of preseason and turning in a number of impressive displays.
Nonetheless, despite now being firmly regarded as one of the Barclays Premier League’s leading talents, Coutinho feels there are aspects of his game that require work.
“We had a good preseason and worked very hard and I believe we have prepared well for the beginning of the season,” he told Liverpoolfc.com. “I feel I have prepared well physically but I personally have to improve all the time. That is always in my mind. I hope we have a good start to the season for the team and keep improving throughout.
“I think I have to think much faster, improve tactically and assist more when marking other players. I think I improved this during pre-season and hopefully will be able to apply them throughout the season.”
Since joining Liverpool from Inter Milan in the January transfer window, Coutinho believes there are facets of his game that have improved.
“I think I have changed my style of game quite a bit and I have improved a lot defensively,” he explained. “There are many things that I try to improve because the football here is played differently — like thinking faster — but I think I have improved my style of play since arriving here.”
Brendan Rodgers insisted earlier this week Coutinho’s best position was in the No. 10 role, operating behind the main striker.
The man himself concurs. However, he’s happy to operate in any berth for the good of the team.
“Like every footballer, I enjoy playing football and wherever the manager tells me to play, I will play,” Coutinho said. “Of course, I prefer to play at No. 10 but if he needs me in another position I will give my best wherever I play.
“I think I have to give my best all the time. I have to try to build plays, score a goal or assist another teammate if he is in a better position. I have to be on the move all the time because this is part of my work.”
Coutinho will undoubtedly be one of Liverpool’s focal points of attack when they open the 2013-14 Barclays Premier League season at home to Stoke City on Saturday.
The importance of beginning the campaign with a win is not lost on the 21-year-old.
“It is always very important to start the season with three points and we have prepared ourselves for that,” he stated. “We want to win regularly this season, starting on Saturday. We will give our best, I believe every player thinks the same way, and we will try to start with three points.
“As I said before, we had good games last season and the most important thing is to maintain consistency. We will try to get as many points as possible in the beginning of the season and hopefully in the end we will get the benefits from that.”
But what benefits are Liverpool aiming for in 2013-14?
“I think Liverpool as a big club has to be prepared — we want to be challenging for big competitions,” concluded Coutinho.
“Our aim is to be competing in the top four for the [UEFA] Champions League — the big European competition Liverpool has to compete in.”