LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, January 31, 2017: Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia in action against Chelsea during the FA Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Luis Garcia lauds ‘difference-maker’ Philippe Coutinho ahead of Champions League campaign

Luis Garcia says Liverpool are lucky to have Philippe Coutinho and cannot wait to see him playing in the UEFA Champions League for the Reds.

From one No. 10 to another, former Reds attacking midfielder Luis Garcia has heaped the praise on Coutinho’s style of play and reaffirms how he can be critical to the team at the elite end of the game.

With Jurgen Klopp‘s side set to feature in the Champions League next season if they can navigate a two-legged qualifier, the Brazilian will be key to Liverpool’s hopes for silverware and success once more in 2017/18.

Garcia waxed lyrical about Coutinho’s blistering start to the campaign just ended—and his stellar finish to 16/17.

“He was very good at the beginning of the season and after a couple of injuries, we missed him very much,” the former Spain international told the Liverpool FC website.

“He arrived fresh at the end and showed what he is capable of – amazing goals, tricks, flicks, every kind of fantastic play, giving the team the extra that is needed against difficult teams who play compact at the back, very deep, with no space in between the lines.”

There are few better-placed to speak about the attributes needed in such a creative role, with Garcia a critical part of Rafa Benitez’s team which won the Champions League in 2005, often playing from similar positions to Coutinho: wide of the front man, or just in behind, and frequently scoring vital goals in Europe.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - TUESDAY APRIL 5th 2005: Liverpool's Luis Garcia scores the second goal against Juventus during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final 1st Leg match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The very tail of the season just ended saw Coutinho shift from his usual left-sided role to a more withdrawn No. 8 position, from which he was able to find increased time and space on the ball—to devastating effect.

Garcia was left in no doubt that Coutinho’s technique and vision make him the ideal fit for the central creative hub Liverpool need, and was quick to point out his talents will be vital both at home abroad next term.

You need to have that pass that is perfect – not long, not short, the perfect speed at the right angle. He is one of the best in the league. He showed it with the pass that no-one was expecting to Sturridge [at West Ham]. He is one of the most important players for the team and he showed it at the end of the season.

He is one of those who can make the difference for a team, it doesn’t matter what team. We are lucky to have him. I would love to see him play in the Champions League next year.

The Reds now know nine of the 10 teams they could face in the qualifier as they bid to make it to the group stage, from high-quality German and Russian outfits in Hoffenheim and CSKA Moscow, to the rather more benign-seeming Viktoria Plzen of Czech Republic or one of three Greek sides in the running for the 10th spot.

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