Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers admits he is ‘surprised’ that Philippe Coutinho’s time at Barcelona didn’t work out for him but thinks he will do ‘really well’ at Aston Villa this season.
Coutinho completed a loan deal to the Midlands club this week after falling out of favour at the Spanish giants, with the Brazilian linking up with Villa boss Steven Gerrard, who captained him at Liverpool.
Rodgers was the manager who first coached Coutinho in the Premier League when the Northern Irishman was Reds boss, but has backed the 29-year-old to excel at Villa Park between now and the rest of the season.
Brendan Rodgers (right) has backed Philippe Coutinho (left) to shine at Aston Villa this season
Coutinho moved to Villa on a six-month loan deal at Barcelona and could play this weekend
‘An amazing player and a great guy,’ Rodgers said when asked about Coutinho’s Premier League return. ‘When we brought him (to Liverpool), I’d seen him as a young player and we hoped to get him to Chelsea, but he’d already agreed to go to Inter Milan.
‘We were then able to bring him in at 19. I think at the time people thought that there was a question mark about his physicality. But he proved in his time at Liverpool and his development what a fantastic player he was. A very humble guy.
‘I have to say I was very surprised it didn’t work out for him at Barcelona because if there was a player and club aligned it was maybe those two. But maybe if the environment is not quite right, for whatever reason, and Philippe is a player that is all about the environment.
Coutinho’s former manager at Liverpool is surprised his spell at Barcelona did not work out
‘If he feels that love and that responsibility then he will thrive. I’m sure he will do really well for Steven, and like I said he needs to get back playing again regularly. He has shown in the Premier League he is a top player and he will look to return to that level.’
Coutinho and Rodgers spent nearly three years together at Anfield, but failed to win a trophy at the Merseyside club.
The Brazilian midfielder did, however, excel in the red of Liverpool under Rodgers, with Coutinho winning the players and fans’ Player of the Year prizes during the 2014-15 campaign.
Rodgers claimed back in June 2020 that the ‘world class’ Coutinho would excel in the Premier League if he came back to England’s top-flight. The Brazilian will make his return to the division when Villa take on Manchester United on Saturday night.