Our exclusive interview with Philippe Coutinho is now available to read in full – after the Liverpool No.10 committed his long-term future to the club on Wednesday morning.
Four years after his arrival on Merseyside, the Brazil international put pen to paper on a new contract extension at Melwood, with the fresh terms set to come into effect on July 1, 2017.
Once the formalities were complete, Coutinho sat down with Liverpoolfc.com to explain why it was a straightforward decision to take, how the fans played their part and what he now hopes to achieve with the Reds in the seasons to come.
The entire chat can be watched on LFCTV GO below – or read on for a transcript of our conversation with the influential playmaker.
Philippe, congratulations on your new long-term deal with Liverpool. How does it feel to have committed your future to the club?
Thank you. I would like to thank everybody, first of all. I am very happy to sign a new contract for this club. It is a club that I am very grateful to and this shows my happiness here. I will work much harder to repay the belief shown in me.
Does this also show the belief you have in the direction the club is going in?
Of course. This is a fantastic club, one of the biggest clubs in the world - and we should be there amongst the other big clubs. This is a football club with great players and great technical staff. It has everything to achieve great things in future.
How easy a decision was this for you to make?
Of course it was an easy decision. As I said before, when I signed this new contract to stay here for a few more years, I did so because it’s a great honour for me. It gives me great happiness because I was welcomed here with open arms by everyone at the club and the supporters right from my first day. I am very thankful to this football club for everything.
All around the club, there is a feeling of general positivity - is that shared by yourself and the other players?
It is. You know, we live and work here at Melwood every day and we can see and feel the positivity within this football club. Every person who works here is a positive person and that has an effect on us on the pitch - it makes us work even harder. Every day, we are trying to achieve and improve even more. This is a very good environment to work in.
How important was Jürgen Klopp in your decision to sign this new deal?
Jürgen is a great manager. We all can see how much he has changed here since he arrived - and how much he will change in future. He is a winner. It’s not only me, but every other player feels honoured to play at this great club for this great manager. This feeling has a very positive influence on us as players.
And what about the supporters, they’ve really embraced you here…
Yes, they have. Since my arrival here, I was welcomed with open arms by the supporters - and everyone at this football club. This is an important factor that carries weight when you decide to remain here for a longer period - and this did have a lot of weight when I thought about the renewal of my contract. I can only thank every supporter for their faith in me. I really hope to repay them. I will do my very best on the pitch to create assists for my teammates and score goals for us to try and win trophies and titles.
Free video: Coutinho's special message to fans
How about your young family? Was it important for them to remain settled in this city?
Yes, it was important. It’s not just me - since we arrived here we were welcomed with open arms by everyone. We feel at home in this city, we feel a part of this city. It is a very important day for me, my wife and my daughter. I am happy - and everyone is happy at home!
It’s four years since you first arrived here at Liverpool. Can you believe how quickly that time has passed?
Yes, the time goes fast, that’s true, but we feel like this because we have a fantastic environment here. We have done good things in the past, but we have a lot more ambitions to achieve on the pitch in the future and I hope to work very hard with my teammates to achieve many things during the next few years I have alongside them at this football club. I hope we can fight for titles and win them - that is very important for me. These past four years have gone quite fast, which is all due to the environment we have here. It is excellent and we are all very happy at this football club.
This season, your form has been outstanding. Prior to your injury, did you feel you were playing the best football of your career so far?
I am a kind of person that works very hard in trying to get better every day. I am always trying to learn every day, so this will be no different from what it was before my injury. Of course, with my injury things got a bit more difficult and I was without playing for quite a while. When you come back, of course it is too difficult to come back at the same level, but I have been working very hard each day in order to carry on producing good performances on the pitch to help the team achieve victories.
The responsibility of goals and trying to win matches is shared throughout this team. Do you feel there is less pressure on you to try and find the top corner all of the time?
We have a very good group of players here in this squad. Every player that is sent onto the pitch does what the manager asks of them very well, so of course the responsibility is shared by everyone on the pitch. We all have our own individual responsibilities and we all know what we have to do on the pitch. Whoever goes onto the pitch has to honour the shirt, so we have to follow the instructions and try to carry them out.
And what’s next? Have we seen the best of Philippe Coutinho, or is there still more to come?
I hope the best is yet to come! As I said before, I am the type of person that works very hard every single day, but I don’t like to talk much about myself. All I can say is that I will carry on working even harder - as I always try to - to get better and develop every day. If I can improve, I will aim to achieve that!
The team’s form hasn’t been as good as we all would have liked in the last couple of weeks, but is there still belief in this squad that this season can be a successful one?
In the last few games, the results were not what we were expecting, things didn’t turn out as we’d hoped they would in those games but the season is very long. We had a good start and kept it going; we’ve had lots of games with good performances. As I said, the last few games were not so good but we are ready to stand up again and carry on fighting. We will continue to strive for our goal, which is to be at the top of the league, and we have lots of important games to come. Everyone is focused on improving this aspect and reaching the top of the table.
Watch all of Phil's goals for Liverpool so far
Lastly, what would your message be to Liverpool fans after signing this new deal?
I just want to thank everyone. Like I said, when I arrived everyone was like a family for me and I am very happy to sign for a few more years here. I hope to repay everything on the pitch.
What do you want to achieve over the course of your new contract?
Titles, I think that is very important. When I say titles, I mean leagues - and this is one of the best leagues in the world - but also the Champions League and fighting with the best teams in Europe. That is my aim - it is the aim of everyone at this football club to be up there. Every player, every staff member at this club. This is what we are searching for.