Philippe Coutinho is set to play against the man who signed him for Inter Milan when Liverpool take on Chelsea at Anfield this evening.
Jose Mourinho signed the Brazilian as an 18-year-old, although Coutinho never got to play under the current Chelsea boss.
Ahead of tonight’s semi final clash, Coutinho has discussed his route to becoming one of the Reds most important players in an interview with the Daily Mail.
‘I signed for Inter when I was 16 but moved when I was 18,’ he said. ‘You miss your family and friends but you have to deal with it. I have been away four years now and I still miss them. My ambition was to succeed and you have to get on with life.
‘I trained with Inter for two days when I went to sign.
‘I met Mourinho and had a couple of conversations with him. He was helpful because it was someone who spoke Portuguese. I never got the chance to work with him as he left in the summer I joined. By then, Rafa Benitez had come in. He was very helpful. Training was good but I didn’t play well at Inter. I didn’t have confidence.’
Coutinho was sent on loan to Espanyol, where he played under current Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino. It was in the winter transfer window of 2013 that Brendan Rodgers paid Inter £8.5million for his services – and Coutinho says the Northern Irishman has had a big impact on his career.
‘He has helped a lot,’ Coutinho said. ‘He gave me time to adapt. The physicality takes you by surprise. When you put your head up in England, you see two or three players ready to hit you.
‘The intensity, the speed is what really takes time to adjust. You can never relax for a minute in one game. In Brazil, Italy and Spain you have time and space to play the ball.
‘The start to the season was slow but we are improving and results have been much better over the last few weeks,’ he continued. ‘If we could win a trophy that would be very important for the team and the club.
‘The major difference is the (3-4-3) system we are now playing. We have more options in each position. We press high, we are creating more opportunities and we have intensity again. We have our confidence back.’
Coutinho is one of a number of Liverpool players the club is keen to tie to a new contract, and the 22-year-old says he would be happy to stay at the club for a number of years.
‘It is not a hot topic for me about signing a new contract. But I would be very happy to stay here for a long time and, maybe, I could become like one of the great players who have been here. I want to win trophies here of my own.’