Philippe Coutinho has been told he can operate with 'complete freedom' when linking the Liverpool play - and the Brazilian is thriving in the roving, inventive role.

Brendan Rodgers has handed the No.10 free rein to take up positions, drift into space and pick holes in the opposition's game.

Coutinho's return for the 4-0 demolition of Fulham coincided with Liverpool setting the standard, at 32, for the most goalscoring opportunities created in a single match this season.

And the diminutive midfielder will be hoping to instigate a similar assault on Everton's goal on Saturday as the Reds go in search of Merseyside derby glory at Goodison Park.

"The manager gives me complete freedom to link the play between midfield and the striker," Coutinho told the Daily Telegraph.

"He does not limit me to a particular area of the field or a position, his instruction to me is to move around and work in different positions that are best for the team.

"My focus in the training sessions is always about movement to create openings and opportunities.

"When you don't have the ball, you still need the discipline, to know where you should be, who you should be marking, but when we have the ball it is important to be able to move around.

"That only comes with practice and I'm pleased people like my style of football."

If Liverpool can get a result at the home of the Blues on Saturday, it would lift them, temporarily, back to the summit of the Barclays Premier League for the first time since September.

Current table-toppers, Arsenal, host Southampton later in the day, where they will face a stern test at the hands of Mauricio Pochettino's flourishing Saints side.

Pochettino is a man Coutinho knows well and one he admires, after the Argentine was his coach and mentor during a loan spell at Espanyol.

Prior to Liverpool's visit to St Mary's in March, Pochettino eulogised about Coutinho's talents - and even compared the playmaker to fellow South American stars Lionel Messi and Ronaldinho.

"I heard this when he said it at the time, but it's a bit of long shot," laughed Coutinho.

"My priority is to win trophies and be part of Liverpool's history, then I will be happy if people say I've been a great player, but there is a lot of work to do before that.

"We all need to win trophies here before we can start talking about how good we are as players.

"But it's always important to hear this from a manager you consider has played a significant part of your career.

"The last time I spoke to Pochettino was just before I joined Liverpool. I know from my time working with him he is a very impressive person.

"It is no surprise to me at all to see Southampton have started the season so well. He is extremely dedicated to training, making his players work very hard. If there is something not correct in training, he will push to make it 100 per cent correct."

While Coutinho dazzled sporadically in what was a largely uninspiring encounter between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield last season, the Brazilian is yet to savour a first taste of the Goodison derby atmosphere.

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However, he is more than aware of what to expect, having represented Inter Milan in two clashes against their rivals AC Milan during his time with the Italian giants.

"People said to me before the first [Merseyside] derby to expect a very physical game, but really there was a lot of football played, the teams trying to play on the floor," he said.

"There was not a lot more physical contact between the sides. With the game so quick, players move fast and passing quickly now, maybe it's not so easy to have these types of physical games.

"I'm sure there will be a lot of tackles, but maybe this is why you don't see these games so much.

"Before I joined Vasco I'd go as a fan but the derbies are the same wherever you play, whether it's in Brazil, Italy or England.

"There is a special atmosphere around the game and nobody wants to lose, but as a player you can only think of winning, not the fear of losing."

Coutinho's talent was apparent from an early age - and his deft touch and intuitive creativity drew comparisons in his homeland to several of Brazil's modern stars - including Kaka and Ronaldinho.

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His career began at one of Rio de Janeiro's most prestigious clubs, Vasco; however, his love affair with football was cultivated long before he walked through their doors in 1999.

"My father loves the game and my two brothers are older than me - they are not professional footballers - but they loved playing football and were always playing with their friends," said Coutinho.

"We lived just near the Maracana and I'd go off with them hoping they'd let me join in with the game. Sometimes, they'd let me and that was where everything started for me.

"The moment I arrived at Vasco I realised I could become a professional footballer. Until then I would just play with friends. It was always football for me, every day. No other sports. It was always the passion of my family.

"But after I joined Vasco - at the age of around 11 - I knew I had to live my life in a certain way to make it to the top. I have many managers who have helped me since then, but one of my first was a coach called Zeica. Sadly he has passed away now. He was very important for me between the ages of 11 until 14.

"When I arrived at Vasco I didn't know where my best position was. I'd play as a striker or even a defender, but he was the one who told me to play centrally - the number ten - and directed me to be a better player.

"Most of the top players from Brazil think about moving to a top European club at some point in the future, and I was no different, even at that young age.

"We all want to be part of the Champions League and competing for the major trophies, so Europe is the target point. When the chance came I took it. I was playing for the Brazil youth team and we travelled to Europe a lot, so that's when Inter Milan saw me and became interested."

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Jose Mourinho was the manager in charge when Coutinho was recruited by the Nerazzurri's scouts; however, it was under his successor, former Reds boss Rafael Benitez that the Brazilian broke into the team.

"It was a difficult period, strangely, because they had won the national championship five times and just won the Champions League but the club was preparing for change," he said.

"Rafa Benítez had just become the manager and he was prepared to give me opportunities straight away as a younger player, but there were good players there who won a lot at the club - really good players - and things were not settled and it turned out not so good.

"I had a good relationship with Rafa, he was always very considerate towards me and gave me a lot of confidence. He cared a lot about all the younger players at Inter.

"I didn't have a chance to speak to him about Liverpool before I came here - I would have liked to - but I believe he spoke well of me to people who know the club, which I thank him for.

"Sometimes you can be a good player at a good club and for some reason it just does not work out.

"There is no explanation for it. Then you move to another club and it fits perfectly straight away and you feel comfortable.

"I had some chances at Inter, but after a few years - certainly by the time Liverpool were interested - I was not getting many chances. As a footballer all you ever want is the chance to play, and show people how well you can play.

"I knew at Liverpool I would get that opportunity so I didn't think twice. You look at a club and you see a top European team, with top players and top ambitions to win every major trophy, even if it will take time. I didn't even have to think about the decision."

While the 21-year-old has excelled in four different countries during his short career so far, he holds just one cap for the national side - a 46-minute cameo during Brazil's 3-0 friendly win over Iran in October 2010.

However, Coutinho insists there's still ample time for him to play his way into the manager Luiz Felipe Scolari's thinking in time for next year's World Cup finals.

"I will go to Rio to support Brazil even if I'm not in the squad," insisted the Reds' No.10.

"The English season will be over, I'm a Brazilian who loves my country, so of course I will be following and supporting the side as much as any fan.

"I still think there is plenty of time for me to try and be part of the team. It's always going to be difficult because there are a lot of players who play in my position who have been given their chance and are playing very well.

"But there is a lot of football to be played before the World Cup, so you just have to try to impress for your club until then. My main focus has to be on Liverpool and then see if anything develops.

"I have no idea if anyone is watching me from the Brazil national team but the best way to have a chance is to do well for Liverpool."