Why Coutinho must step it up for post-Suarez Liverpool this season

Philippe Coutinho enjoyed a fine season for Liverpool last term - but it is now time to step it up in the absence of Luis Suarez.

The creative Brazilian played a huge part in Liverpool's unlikely but unsuccessful title charge last term, with some bewitching performances among his 33 appearances.

Coutinho, who arrived at Anfield for a relative snip at around £8million in January 2013, scored five goals and claimed seven assists as the Reds mounted their best title challenge for 24 years.

However, with Liverpool set for a new look for this season, the scheming Coutinho must now step his output up even further if he is to truly thrive.

Luis Suarez's exit to Barcelona has left the Anfield side without their best player, but the arrivals of Lazar Markovic and Adam Lallana have provided Brendan Rodgers' side with a fresh thrust of impetus in the attacking midfield roles.

Lallana, a £25million arrival from Southampton, is unlikely to have been brought in to play as an understudy to Coutinho, while the 20-year-old Markovic joins with a burgeoning reputation throughout European football following his exploits with Benfica last season.

Former Saints captain Lallana moves to Anfield fresh from his best-ever season in a Southampton shirt.

The 26-year-old scored nine goals and grabbed six assists as the upwardly mobile Saints finished an impressive eighth.

Rodgers' insistence on using the diamond formation at times last season could see both Coutinho and Lallana given the chance to thrive in the same side, although Raheem Sterling's emergence as a central attacking midfielder towards the back-end of the previous campaign has only increased competition for places.

Coutinho has been a relative success since his arrival from Inter Milan, and the low fee the Reds paid the Nerazzurri has proved to be a shrewd piece of business in the modern age.

The 22-year-old was a cut above in the Reds' first pre-season game against Brondby on Wednesday evening, and the youngster's moments of magic will be needed more than ever next term as the five-time European Cup winners begin life in a post-Suarez world.

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