Philippe Coutinho is confident he can further improve his contributions from the new, deeper position Jürgen Klopp is regularly deploying him in.
The Liverpool No.10, so often used as part of a front three during his time on Merseyside, has recently switched to a role more typically in behind the likes of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah in attack.
Having top-scored for the club in all competitions last term, Coutinho has struck nine times already this season – including a hat-trick as captain in the 7-0 Champions League rout against Spartak Moscow.
And the Brazil international is determined to increase not only his individual goal tally but those of the teammates around him, given the licence he has to create and invent from his new position.
“I think playing there is a position where you get to play the ball a great deal. You become more involved in the game. It’s a position that I feel that I’ve adapted to and I like it,” said the 25-year-old.
“Of course, I’m always trying to improve and be able to score goals and set off moves because my position demands that.
“Last season there were a number of goals and it was the highest that I’ve ever managed. But with each year I try and develop and I hope to improve that. I’d always like to score more goals.”
Klopp’s ability to influence players’ development has been evident throughout his two years at the Liverpool helm so far.
Coutinho arrived at Anfield as a young man with precocious natural talents at his disposal already, but it is the manager’s wisdom on how to perform without the ball that the playmaker highlights as especially impactful on his progress.
“He’s helped me a lot. I think the way he’s helped me to play when we don’t have the ball when the team is under pressure is really different,” he affirmed.
“We’ve changed how we play. We’ve tried to switch to a different style and I think that bit by bit I’m getting better with that and hopefully that can continue.”
When Coutinho gets on the ball and looks up the pitch for options, he will usually be greeted by the sight of Mane and Salah speeding in behind the opposition defence in the hope of a through ball.
The forwards’ form since joining the Reds in the summers of 2016 and 2017 respectively has helped to make the team one of the most exciting in Europe – as shown by their haul of 23 goals in the Champions League group stage.
“Sadio and Mo are both great players. They are both very quick and they give us options down the sides. They are players with great intelligence,” added Coutinho.
“They play in a quite advanced position and the line that they play always creates those spaces for us with their movement. They are very important players for the team.”
Coutinho was speaking in the matchday programme for Sunday’s Merseyside derby at Anfield. Click here to subscribe online now.