Tuesday July 17 2012
Coutinho the pride of Inter

A victim of the turmoil which has engulfed Inter since 2010, Philippe Coutinho is set to become a centrepiece of the new Nerazzurri. Scott Fleming writes.

There's no doubt what the most eye catching aspect was of Inter's trip to Pinzolo, the little town in a valley in the Alps where La Beneamata have spent the last two weeks. It isn't the bright red new away strip they wore in the friendlies against a Trentino select and Slovenian outfit FC Koper, which has angered some fans so much their faces have turned the same colour. It isn't the return of Rodrigo Palacio's infamous 'rat tail' hairstyle either.

No, it's the performances of a certain frizzy haired, vertically challenged Brazilian munchkin which have been more refreshing to those of a Nerazzurri persuasion than a cold gust of Alpine air, a leap in an Alpine lake, a...well, you get the picture.

Philippe Coutinho collected the ball on the left wing with 70 minutes played at the tiny Stadio Quercia on Sunday night. He knocked it inside, tempting two Koper defenders into thinking they could nick it off him, before suddenly spinning off down the left again, a turn so dramatic it left one of the Slovenians on his hind parts. Upon entering the box he flummoxed another poor defender with a sharp swivel and – whilst falling – whipped a shot across goal into the bottom corner.

The 20-year-old also opened the scoring in the 6-0 rout of the Trentino select last Thursday and back in May, during Inter's slightly bizarre end of season jaunt to Indonesia, the highlight of which was Javier Zanetti's appearance on 'Indonesian Idol', struck a brace in a 4-2 win over the Indonesian national side.

A fairly hefty disclaimer is required at this point. The Indonesian national side, a Trentino select and FC Koper are not Barcelona, Manchester United and Bayern Munich. Drawing sweeping conclusions from pre-season matches is always dangerous. Yet there is cause to believe that, as the Gazzetta dello Sport wrote after that double in the heat of Jakarta: “The tiny Brazilian is another player altogether after his loan spell at Espanyol.”

Watch the five La Liga goals Coutinho scored in his five months with Barcelona's second club last season – and they include a wonderfully cunning low free-kick, a brilliant individual run and finish and a scorching half volley – and the sensation you get isn't 'hold on, he's actually half decent this kid', it’s 'wow, he's a genius!'

So how did we come to have such low expectations of the boy from Rio De Janeiro in the first place? Signed from Vasco Da Gama aged just 16 in 2008, but not formally arriving at Inter until two years later, the problem was that due to his nationality, age and appearance Coutinho was burdened with Alexandre Pato comparisons from day one, and expected to make the same immediate impact that the Duck did at Milan in 2007.

He failed to do so, but did turn in some very promising performances on the left of a 4-2-3-1 against Werder Bremen and Tottenham in the Champions League, only to disappear almost entirely from the first team set up when Leonardo replaced the sacked Rafa Benitez. Likewise last season, he was only just coming on to a game with a goal against Cagliari and an assist against Fiorentina when the decision to loan him to Espanyol was made.

Having made just 18 League appearances in his first two years at San Siro, Coutinho is a victim of the turmoil that has engulfed Inter since the 2010 Treble and Jose Mourinho's exit. But now, with some tranquillity at long last permeating the club and a new team consisting of one or two of the old faces, several new signings and a number of Andrea Stramaccioni's former Primavera pupils taking shape, his time appears to have come.

Playing once again on the left of a 4-2-3-1, which appears to be Strama's tactical blueprint for the season ahead, gives Coutinho the chance to indulge his favourite pastimes, namely running with the ball and making defenders look very silly Indeed with tricks, flicks and step overs. “We knew he was bit special,” says teammate Diego Milito. “The time in Spain has done him good and he'll help us a lot this year.”

“We often forget that he's only 20-years-old,” states Stramaccioni. “He has matured in Spain and I like him a lot.”

The player’s own take on matters is simple. “I feel good and delighted. Thanks Inter.” 

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Have your say...
He is good, but Inter needs more fresh additional players to strengthen their squad and to compete with Juve and Napoli for next season.
on the 21st July, 2012 at 9:01am
Couti is really good player. I've seen him when he scores 2 goal @ gelora bung karno Indonesia. I just hope he can be a real good player in this season. Forza inter!!!
on the 20th July, 2012 at 6:58pm
average player and thats all.prob be on loan to Parma or Samp in jan
on the 20th July, 2012 at 1:22pm
ive seen this coming since his espanyol loan move opened my eyes,coutinho will be inters best player this year and become a world superstar at the same time
on the 18th July, 2012 at 9:23am
I disagree Cellbel. Coutinho doesn't have the same passing and shooting ability of Sneijder, at least not yet. Coutinho's attributes are better suited to either a wide position or as a second striker; much like Giovinco. I do have concerns for Sneijder, his durability, commitment, and ridiculous salary. Tassi or Bassa will eventually come through to become the next Inter number 10. As for players that made defenders/keepers look stupid, nobody did that like Baggio!
on the 18th July, 2012 at 8:33am
I really hope Coutinho will play regularly under stram along with most of the Inter youth. I am a Juventino through and through but the first time I ever saw coutinho I knew he was a talent. The kid is dripping with talent and so is longo. I can only imagine what inter would look like with them playing together under stram. They'd definitely give us some stiff competition. #ForzJuve
on the 18th July, 2012 at 2:03am
I'm a long time admirer of this young and prospectus player. Stramacioni has a flair for youthfulness which will definitely widen his chances of play comes next season. Lest we forget that, the likes of Longo, constagios, Guarin Ronachia etc are young lads that will spark us up in the coming season. j. Zantti and combiaso must be entrusted with the leadership roles and wishing Wesley an injury free compaign. Oh my goodness! Internazionale Milano will be unstopable and ruthless in both domestic and continental compaign. One thing can't be taken away from Inter; the modern free flow of football. Wishing strama and his lads the very best for next season. forza Inter, I remain Nerazoro for ever! God bless italian football.
on the 17th July, 2012 at 10:35pm
Sneijder is a world-class player but we have to admit that last season was dissapointing (certainly also due to injuries). Last season Countinho would have played better in the Sneijder role.
on the 17th July, 2012 at 6:40pm
Coutinho's loan spell has clearly helped him as you mentioned, and now I think Stramaccioni has arrived as the perfect time to help him solidify a place in the first team. The patience which Inter rarely show now has a chance to pay off on the field.

And this is without Sneijder there to run the midfield via Palacio/Milito/Cou.

Now that Ibra has skipped town, Inter's attack is all of a sudden poised as maybe the league's best.
on the 17th July, 2012 at 6:38pm
Coutinho's talent had gone unnoticed in the last couple of years because of few chances and change in coaches. This guy has such incredible talent and is finally being used to his strengths by Stramaccioni. Stramaccioni's philosophy focuses on using young players and playing attractive attacking football, and this is only going to bring out the very best from Coutinho.

With this new look Inter looking promising, there's no doubt that Coutinho will lead Inter's attack next season. Forza Inter!!!
on the 17th July, 2012 at 6:34pm
Scott Fleming, my hat goes off to you for recognising a truly sensational talent that is about to burst. I've been following him since 2008/09 and I really don't get why he doesn't deserve the recognition he gets. Remember it was that espanyol loan that won him "breakthrough player of the season"in la Liga ahead of much more accomplished names.
on the 17th July, 2012 at 4:27pm
Its a start but Coutinho on his own is not the answer to Inter's problems, we still need to rid ourselves of at least 3 or 4 players. Julio Cesar, Stankovic, Samuel and Maicon must go and Cambiasso and Zanetti should only be used for there leadership skills within the club. Young players need to fill the gap.

I would go with Nagatomo, Rannochia, Silvestre, Jonathan, Cambiasso, Obi, Coutinho, Sneijder, Alvarez, Milito

We need investment in the middle tho and back up all over!
on the 17th July, 2012 at 3:23pm
Will be a top player no doubt, just hope we dont sign anymore 30 year olds like mudingayi etc and we give our youth players a chance, Bessa, Longo, Castaignos (don't sell him), lets buy only players under 26 who have at least 5 years to give.
on the 17th July, 2012 at 2:55pm
Yup, give this boy plenty of chances and he will definitely shine. The potential is there for everyone to see.

I hope Moratti has patience with Strama and I am quite excited with the new Inter taking shape. Young blood, skills and a couple of old champions.

Cant' wait for Serie A to begin.
on the 17th July, 2012 at 1:07pm
He is young and dangerous. But i'm not really sure he will play regulary, there's many young talented inter midfielder like Alvarez, obi, unreplaced zanneti, snidjer, veteran cambiasso, stancovic. Only If he can show consistency perform
on the 17th July, 2012 at 1:04pm

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