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Coutinho earning his spurs at Inter

Published: Saturday 16 October 2010, 10.46CET
Brazilian prodigy Coutinho's futsal-infused skills have been supplemented by his poise and personality since the 18-year-old midfielder joined FC Internazionale Milano.
by Paolo Menicucci
from Milan
Published: Saturday 16 October 2010, 10.46CET

Coutinho earning his spurs at Inter

Brazilian prodigy Coutinho's futsal-infused skills have been supplemented by his poise and personality since the 18-year-old midfielder joined FC Internazionale Milano.

Name: Coutinho
Club: FC Internazionale Milano
European debut: 27/08/10 v Club Atlético de Madrid (UEFA Super Cup)
Position: attacking midfielder
Nationality: Brazilian
Date of Birth: 12/06/92

Coutinho was 16 when Internazionale paid CR Vasco da Gama almost €4m to sign him. Having waited two years to bring him to Italy, the Nerazzurri's long-term investment now seems to be paying off. After just a few training sessions, coach Rafael Benítez said Coutinho could be "the club's future".

With quick feet and great technique honed playing futsal as a youngster, creative midfielder Coutinho made his first-team debut in the Brazilian second division with Vasco da Gama in 2008. He never looked back, helping the Rio de Janeiro-based side win promotion and then featuring in the first division last season before moving to Inter this summer.

His typically Brazilian skills are further enhanced by his tactical awareness and personality. Despite being only 18, he has adapted quickly to a new country, a new style of football and a new team packed with established internationals, while also revelling in an unfamiliar role as a left winger in a three-pronged attack.

Coutinho scored three goals in five games as Brazil won the 2009 South American Under-17 Championship, but greater glories clearly lie ahead with the youngster having made his full international debut in a 3-0 win over Iran on 7 October.

Breakthrough game:
FC Internazionale Milano 4-0 SV Werder Bremen
29/09/10 (UEFA Champions League group stage)

Coutinho had shown flashes of talent in substitute outings, but when given a first start in the UEFA Champions League he seized centre stage. Pivotal in the European champions' scintillating attacking display, he made some fantastic passes and came close to scoring twice. "The only thing missing for the San Siro fans was a goal from the boy," Gazzetta dello Sport wrote. "However, his performance was a glimpse of what is to come."

He says:
"I thought it would be more difficult to come into a squad that won everything last season, but, thank God, I immediately found my place. I feel great at Inter and obviously it helps to have several Brazilians in the team, like Lucio, Maicon, Júlio César and Thiago Motta."

"Samuel Eto'o and Wesley Sneijder are great players, Jonathan Biabiany too. It's easy to play with them. I just have to keep pace with them, that's all you need when you play with footballers like that."

"I am really happy, it's important for me to play regularly for the Seleçao. Being here is vital, and it made me so proud to play from the start. The atmosphere in the Brazilian camp is always relaxed even if the whole world is watching us, so it's wonderful and positive for me to be part of this group. I hope I can keep on doing good things here."
On making his international debut on 7 October

They say:
"He is a very good player, a very technical, skilful player. He is for sure a player for the future, and it's hard to use him every week because he is still a youngster and he has to get used to it. But with his qualities he will make it; he will make it for sure."
Wesley Sneijder, Inter team-mate

"I knew him from back in Brazil when he played for Vasco da Gama and he has already demonstrated his character and his personality. He is very impressive and that hasn't changed from being here with us. He will become a great footballer."
Maicon, Inter team-mate

"He is a young player with many qualities who may be the club's future. We expect him to do very well for us."
Rafael Benítez, Inter coach

"Coutinho is a great addition to the squad. He is a phenomenal player."
Massimo Moratti, Inter president

Last updated: 16/10/10 14.59CET

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