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Coutinho bodybuilding to adapt

Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho has taken to the gym to develop the strength to go with his skill.

• Gerrard: More to come from Coutinho

The Brazilian playmaker, signed from Inter Milan for £8 million in January, has been compared to South American superstars Lionel Messi and Ronaldinho by Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino.

And Coutinho, who played for Pochettino during a loan spell in Spain with Espanyol last season, has made an impressive start on Merseyside.

His first three starts for Liverpool have brought one goal - in the 5-0 Premier League demolition of Swansea on February 17 - and two assists, but he has yet to complete a full 90 minutes for the club, having been substituted in the second half each time he has started.

The 20-year-old said he was still getting used to the speed of the Premier League and was working hard to build up his fitness.

He told the Liverpool Echo: "It is very different here. In Brazil, the game is very open. The defenders are not as tight with the attacker. I think this is the hardest thing here.

"Also, the game is very quick. But I feel I can improve these things during training and improve my intensity. I have been doing some bodybuilding too so I can get more used to the physicality.

"English football is very quick - it has great intensity, and I think this is the big difference. In Brazil, football is slower, the tactics are a bit more open and the pitch even seems to be bigger due to the game being so open.

"In Italy, it is a little bit different than it is in Brazil, but here in England it is very quick. I played in Italy and in Spain, but the intensity of the game here is very strong.

"I just have to improve to be able to play at the highest level here."

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