Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho‘s omission from Brazil’s squad has left manager Brendan Rodgers bemused.
The 23-year-old, who produced a stunning strike to earn victory at Stoke last weekend, has been dropped in favour of veteran Kaka despite playing at this summer’s Copa America.
Coutinho provided many of Liverpool’s genuine touches of quality over a difficult 12 months and Rodgers was stunned to see national team coach Dunga leave him out for friendlies against Costa Rica and the United States.
“I was very surprised. With everything I had seen last season, with the changes in the squad, he was going to be one of the flagship players for the new dawn of Brazilian football,” said the Reds boss.
“It is hard to understand. He made team of the season in the hardest league in the world, how he cannot be in the squad is incredible really.
“I spoke to him at length on Friday about it and of course he is disappointed but his only focus is on Liverpool.
“He is a really humble boy, a proud man for his country, so I am sure he will pick up the form he has shown over the last 18 months and I am sure it will not be long before he is back in it.”
Last season saw Coutinho score eight times, including spectacular goals against Southampton, Manchester City and Bolton, and provide the guile in Liverpool’s midfield but Rodgers knows there is more to come.
“It is just about consistency. We have started to see that in his game,” he added.
“He is also the type of player whose numbers will be important: it is about creating and scoring goals – that is the level he is working to get to.
“You saw last week towards the end of the game he has that magic which can win you a game out of nothing and we have seen over time here how he has adjusted to life at this level.
“He is only going to get better.”