Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho on the area he's improved in from last season

Philippe Coutinho

The Brazilian has become something of a talisman for the Reds going forward this term, but it's a defensive attribute he feels he's improved on most.

Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho has been talking to the London Evening Standard about areas of his game he has improved ever since joining the Reds from Inter Milan in 2013, and where he needs to improve further.

At £8.5 million, the Brazilian is proving to be something of a bargain by becoming a big focal point for the side - but he says one thing he has improved on from last season is his marking. 

He said: "Sure I have improved from last year - especially on marking as it is something my manager requests from me a lot. I am happy with my form but I know I must keep improving."

Whenever you watch Liverpool without possession you are bound to see Coutinho doing a lot of work at the top end of the field, pressing up on the opposition defenders when they are in possession and trying to force the error - something which manager Brendan Rodgers has talked about time and again ever since arriving on Merseyside in the summer of 2012.

Coutinho added: "My function is to defend without the ball and that is something our team does well: pressuring without the ball. Then, when we’ve got the ball it is easier. That is one of the reasons we are playing well and consequently individually we also improve."

If there is one part of his game where the 22-year-old receives his share of criticism, it's goals. There may have been a small collection of top quality strikes from the Brazilian in a short space of time against Bolton Wanderers, Southampton and Manchester City - which proves he has them in his locker - but given he is on five for the season, some will say that isn't enough for a player of his quality - especially for a side that currently plays with one striker.

"I do think I need to improve on scoring more goals and that is something I am working hard at."

Given there is a criticism of him in that area, maybe he should be afforded a bit of slack for his age and there are evident signs of improvement in his game. The contract he signed earlier on in the season should ensure his best years at Anfield, and they will see a very talented footballer to continue to improve for years to come.

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