Philippe Coutinho scored a stunning hat-trick for Brazil at the Copa America in the early hours of Thursday morning after being encouraged to replicate his Liverpool displays on the international stage by manager Dunga.
The 23-year-old playmaker has been the talk of the town recently after reported interest from European giants Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona.
However, he put all of the speculation to one side in America to help Brazil thrash Haiti 7-1 and whilst the second of Coutinho’s three goals was a tap- in, the former Inter Milan star displayed his qualities by scoring two thunderous efforts either side of that.
Brazil manager Dunga paid the Liverpool midfielder a series of compliments after the game and revealed that he has been trying to get Coutinho to replicate his performances at club level on the international scene.
“We have been encouraging Coutinho during training to be the player he is in Liverpool, take advantage of his opportunities, and he did that for us,” Dunga told reporters, as reported by the Guardian.
“He has been acquiring more trust and belief in himself and taking more risks. That is what we wanted.”
Coutinho has often been labelled a ‘big-game player’ by Liverpool fans, having produced wonderful performances against the Premier League’s biggest sides in recent seasons.
It is often the games against the smaller teams that the crafty playmaker has struggled in, where his performances tend to drop off.
Brazil’s crushing win over Haiti, which allowed them to move top of Copa America’s Group B, will almost certainly raise confidence within the camp.
The one problem Coutinho’s hat-trick may have produced – for Liverpool fans at least – is that it may severely raise the reported interest being shown in him.
Whilst Coutinho will almost certainly face tougher opposition than Haiti during his career, his well-taken hat-trick will alert those who have been reported to be keeping tabs on his progress.
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