Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho has come under fire for his inclusion in the nominees for the PFA Player of the Year, and his selection in the Team of the Year – but boss Brendan Rodgers believes the recognition is more than deserved.
The Brazilian was the only Reds player to be named in the eleven, alongside six Chelsea stars – Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, John Terry, Nemanja Matic, Eden Hazard and Diego Costa – as well as Manchester United’s David de Gea, Southampton’s Ryan Bertrand, Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez and Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane.
Coutinho has produced some fine moments this term, including the stunning strike against Manchester City, yet his performances have been hugely inconsistent.
His inclusion was even more of a shock given Blues playmaker Cesc Fabregas didn’t make the cut – despite registering an inspired 16 league assists – a stark contrast to Coutinho’s four.
Liverpool boss Rodgers, nonetheless, isn’t surprised that the Brazilian was voted into the Premier League Team of the Year; describing the 22-year-old as the “catalyst” to his team.
“It’s fantastic for him,” Rodgers was quoted by the Daily Star as saying.
“We all know what he’s given to the team since he came here, in the last couple of seasons,” he continued.
“But it’s also nice for him that other players recognise that as well. For him to be in there with a host of players with great quality, he sits well placed in amongst that.
“I’m delighted for him. He has been absolutely brilliant in his time here and this season he has been a real catalyst for us.”