Steven Gerrard: Philippe Coutinho needs to be loved – my job is to make him feel good

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Steven Gerrard has promised that Philippe Coutinho will once again laugh at the “signing statement” to drive Aston Villa back into the European competition.

Gerrard sent a big message of intent during the January transfer window recruiting a Barcelona player on loan, but also added Everton left-back Lucas Digne for £ 25 million.

Coutinho is set to make his debut against Manchester United on Saturday, presumably after the bench presentation, and Gerrard has admitted he already feels the optimism that reigns around Villa Park.

Former Gerrard teammate at Liverpool, Coutinho has endured a difficult period with Barcelona and a £ 142 million signature has often been cited as evidence of an exaggerated Catalan club.

But Gerrard insists the Brazilian international can make a big impact on Villa’s season and finally start enjoying football again.

“You can clearly see that he is a player who needs to feel loved and supported like most footballers. I was the same, you want people to trust and believe in you,” he said.

“Mine and the job of the staff is the job of his new teammates and fans to feel good about himself.

“If you get a lucky Philippe Coutinho who enjoys his football, talent doesn’t leave you. Quality doesn’t leave you, it’s about putting everything else around it and it’s our job to put everything around it.

“Has this pleasure passed him by in the last few years? Maybe yes. I think Philippe would have said it himself and that’s probably why we had the opportunity to bring him here.”

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