Friday, February 25, 2011

Philippe Coutinho - Scout Report, Prodigy among finest young Brazilian talents

The teenager has already shown tremendous promise in the Italian Serie A.

Coutinho took his first steps in the famed youth academy of Brazilian powerhouse Vasco de Gama in 1999, at the age of six.

By the time he was ready for action with the senior side in 2008, Italian giants Inter Milan snapped him up for a fee of €4m.

The then-16-year-old, who had never yet had the chance to make a professional appearance, spent the following two seasons on loan back at Vasco before completing his Italy switch upon turning 18.

He made his debut for Inter against Atletico Madrid in the 2010 UEFA Super Cup final in August 2010 and went on to feature heavily in the first team under the guidance of former boss Rafa Benitez, who holds Coutinho in high regard.

Inter chief Massimo Moratti shares Benitez's view of the burgeoning starlet, once claiming that “Coutinho is the future of Inter”.

Having made 11 league appearances so far this term for Inter, Coutinho has been restricted mostly to the bench since the arrival of new manager Leonardo, despite producing moments of magic in the limited play time he received.

The fleet-footed youngster played an integral role in helping the young Brazil sides win the U-15 and U-17 Copa Sudamericano in 2007 and 2009 respectively, and gradually became known as one of the most talented young midfielders of an already supremely talented Brazilian generation.

His evident skill in the youth levels of international football and the credit he received at Inter, even at such an early stage in his career, earned Coutinho an October 2010 call-up to face Iran in a friendly match, in which he made his debut senior international appearance - four months after turning 18.

He was due to appear in the U-20 Copa Sudamericano held in Peru earlier this year, but was sidelined with injury and could not feature as his compatriots won the tournament.

Coutinho is a speedy, explosive trickster who is reliable in possession and boasts superb technique, as you might expect from such a highly-rated Brazilian talent.

Yet he is also masterful in his passing and has provided his Inter cohorts with some classy through balls in his short time at Milan.

The sprightly youngster is an extremely versatile player who can slot into just about any position in the attacking third, while he is most effective cutting in from the left flank or filling the gap behind the two forwards.

It has all happened very quickly for Coutinho. But his current ability, even while understandably raw, shows there is much to look forward to when the starlet matures.

The only noticeable area in which the 1.72m-tall Brazilian is currently lacking is perhaps his long-range shots on goal. He has wasted a handful of opportunities by skying the ball over the bar instead of opting for a simple pass.

This is mostly down to experience though, and he will learn with time to make better decisions and pick his options more wisely.

There is no doubt that the 18-year-old has the potential to develop into the full package for Inter and become a permanent fixture in the star-studded Brazil lineup in the coming years.

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