Brazil's Kaka believes Coutinho can fill Steven Gerrard's void at Liverpool
Brazil international Kaka believes his compatriots Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino can be big players for Liverpool, Sky Sports reports. The two-time Ballon d’Or winner also claimed that Coutinho can fill the void created by the departure of former skipper Steven Gerrard and advised the Merseyside club to build their squad around him.
The 23-year-old was shortlisted for the PFA Player of the Year award for the 2014/15 season after his impressive performances for Liverpool and also scored the winner in their 2015/16 season opener against Stoke City on Sunday.
Kaka revealed that he has been a big admirer of the attacking midfielder and believes that he can step up to fill Gerrard’s shoes.
"I have been a big admirer of Coutinho and he can be a very important player for Liverpool and Brazil," he told The Mirror. “Coutinho is a humble guy. He won't talk about being able to replace a legend like Steven Gerrard, and the truth is nobody could ever replace him, but with Gerrard gone they do need somebody to step up - and he can do that."
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has made a host of acquisitions in the summer after Liverpool finished at a disappointing sixth spot in the league last season. Apart from Gerrard, they also lost youngster Raheem Sterling who moved to Manchester City.
The changes at Anfield have understandably increased the pressure on Coutinho, but Kaka is confident that the former Inter Milan player can cope with the expectations. He also advised Rodgers to build his team around Coutinho.
"There will be a lot of expectation on him with Liverpool fighting to get back into the Champions League, but I know that he can handle it,” Kaka said. “One great player doesn’t make a team, but you can build a team around one great player, and I believe he can be that player."
One of the major signings made by Liverpool in the transfer window was the acquisition of Roberto Firmino from Bundesliga side Hoffenheim and the Brazilian legend is hopeful that the 23-year-old can form a good partnership with Coutinho, but added that it will take some time.
“Firmino will be a big player for Liverpool, too, and will have a good relationship on the field with Coutinho, but the fans must give him time,” said Kaka. “You must remember he is adjusting to a new league and that always takes time.”