Steven Gerrard has heaped praise on Philippe Coutinho after the Brazilian signed a new five-year deal with Liverpool on Wednesday.
The 24-year-old will become the club’s highest-earning player, with his new contract keeping at the club until the end of the 2021/22 campaign.
Importantly, there is no release clause in Coutinho’s agreement with Liverpool, no doubt designed to fend off long-term interest from La Liga giants Barcelona.
For Gerrard, who is set to rejoin the Reds as a youth coach next month, this is crucial, as the long-serving Liverpool captain explained of his former team-mate.
“I think for any team, you’ve already got to try and keep your best players,” Gerrard said.
“Philippe’s been instrumental over the last couple of years, he’s grown and become a world-class talent.
“I’ve trained against him on a daily basis and I’ve played with, and he’s a phenomenal footballer.
“He can do magical things with the ball and he’s the type of footballer you want to try and build your team around.
“And if Liverpool are to be successful in the coming years, I’m sure he’ll have a part to play in it—he’s a magical player.”
Gerrard played with Coutinho for two-and-a-half seasons after the Brazilian’s £8.5 million move to Liverpool from Inter Milan in 2013, and witnessed his development firsthand.
Though he arrived a prodigious talent, Coutinho had struggled to establish himself at the San Siro, and had to work to restore his reputation on Merseyside.
But hitting the ground running, he has progressed rapidly into one of the Premier League‘s best players, and arguably Liverpool’s most important talent.
He came close to securing the title along with Gerrard in 2013/14, but the Reds ultimately fell short, with the midfielder leaving for LA Galaxy at the end of the following campaign.
Now returning as part of Jurgen Klopp‘s academy staff, Gerrard can hope for Coutinho to go one better in the coming seasons.
Having reaffirmed his commitment with his new deal, Coutinho is the player Klopp needs to build around, with Gerrard rightly acknowledging his importance to the club both on and off the field.