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 By Mike Whalley

Coutinho on verge of new deal

Liverpool will offer Philippe Coutinho a new contract within weeks, manager Brendan Rodgers says.

Coutinho, 22, has become a key player for the Reds since his eight million pounds move from Inter Milan in January 2013.

The Brazilian playmaker started 28 Premier League matches last season as Liverpool finished runners-up to Manchester City.

And Rodgers is keen to secure Coutinho's long-term future to aid the attacking threat of a side who scored 101 league goals during the 2013/14 campaign.

Liverpool's manager told British newspapers: "A new contract for Philippe is something we will look to do over the summer.

"It's all in hand. He's a valuable player and a great asset to the club. He's come in here and shown his quality, and really developed as a young player.

"Now he's moving into the best years of his life as a footballer. He's 22 and hopefully by the time the next World Cup comes around he will be an important part of the Brazil team, I'm sure his best years will be at Liverpool."

Coutinho was left out of Brazil's squad for the recent World Cup in his homeland, which allowed him a summer off as he avoided the humiliation of their 7-1 semifinal defeat against Germany.

Rodgers said: "He came back to preseason with a great level of fitness -- right on the limit of his weight.

"He's in great condition, clearly worked hard in the off season and since he's come back we've seen in the games how strong and aggressive he is."

Coutinho's contribution to Liverpool's runners-up spot last season was more as a creative player than as a goalscorer.

He scored five times in the league for the Reds during the campaign, but Rodgers believes that goal ratio will get better.

The manager said: "He's a player I don't want to put too much pressure on with goals.

"When you have that quality and technique, you'll hope to score more goals -- and I'm sure that's something he will improve on this season."

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