WATCH: Coutinho as a teenage futsal legend

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Check out this outstanding footage of Coutinho terrorising defences his native Brazil while playing futsal.

The Liverpool playmaker used to love playing futsal with his brothers and it was at one of these tournaments that he was first spotted by scouts of Brazilian giants Vasco de Gama.

It’s safe to see that Coutinho never looked back, though we’d love to see if he’s still as tasty with a futsal at his feet now.










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Five players Everton should target in January

Asif Norat 10/01/2017
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Who should Everton look to sign?

Everton were knocked out of the FA Cup a few days ago and they haven’t been riding their luck with injuries this campaign. If owner Farhad Moshiri wants to achieve the aims he has set for the club, a couple of signings during the January transfer window has to be a priority.

Following the defeat away to Leicester, Ronald Koeman has revealed his frustration and felt the result was a wake-up call for the club as the team are in need for general improvement and squad strengthening.

“I know what we need to change and if everyone opens their eyes today maybe we will get further on our improvement as a team,” he mentioned. “Because that’s really what we need and that’s all about what happens this month.”

Here are five individuals who Koeman should aim to sign this month if they want to successfully finish in the Europa League spot…

ASMIR BEGOVIC (CHELSEA)

Everton’s goalkeeping errors have cost them quite a few points this season, otherwise they wouldn’t be far behind sixth-place Manchester United. Given the fact that most clubs will not be tempted to sell their first-choice goalkeeper in January with very little time to find a replacement, Asmir Begovic would be seen as the best option available.

Still 29-years-old, the Bosnian shot-stopper will want a move away from Chelsea soon or later as he currently plays second fiddle to Thibaut Courtois. Begovic has only featured in the cup matches under new manager Antonio Conte, however a move to Goodison Park would be ideal for both parties as Everton are in need of a proven Premier League keeper.

Begovic has at least five years of Premier League experience under his belt and he would certainly be an upgrade on both Maarten Stekelenburg and Joel Robles.

RAFAEL TOLOI (ATALANTA)

Rafael Toloi has been fantastic for Serie A side Atalanta this season, the centre-back has completed more tackles and interceptions per game than any other player in the squad. The Brazilian may not be a popular candidate that Everton fans will fancy, but 77.7% of his passes are forward, which is a greater share than Ramiro Funes Mori and Phil Jagielka.

Koeman prefers ball-playing centre-backs and Toloi unquestionably has the right technical ability to confidently slide into the side’s defence. Everton currently have an ageing defence which will not lead them to any success, so pursuing a move for veteran Jose Fonte would make no sense whilst Toloi would be the better option in the long run.

The addition of Toloi could be a vital one as Jagielka is expected to retire in the summer, this will allow the 26-year-old to settle into the Premier League before then if a deal was put into place.

MORGAN SCHNEIDERLIN (MANCHESTER UNITED)

With Gareth Barry not having the legs he once had and key player Idrissa Gueye away on international duty, the signing of a central midfielder this month is a must. Manchester United’s Morgan Schneiderlin has been heavily linked with a reunion with Koeman as the pair enjoyed a successful time together at Southampton.

The Frenchman’s time at Old Trafford didn’t go the way he would have expected it to, but his career could be revived if the move to Everton becomes official. Since the 2012/13 campaign, Schneiderlin has won more tackles and interceptions combined (668) in the league than any other midfielder.

Schneiderlin has a couple of years left in him before he reaches his 30’s and he could be the right box-to-box player that Koeman desperately needs in his first XI.

JENS TOORNSTRA (FEYENOORD)

Given that Yannick Bolasie is out with a knee injury until 2018 and Romelu Lukaku is not receiving enough service from the wings – Koeman needs a winger this month and Jens Toornstra is the perfect example of an attacking player who can offer both goals and assists. So far this season, Toornstra has scored five league goals and has provided seven assists.

The Dutchman can play on both flanks and in the number ten role if needed, offering a different dimension to Everton instead of relying too much on the full-backs to get forward to create chances. Due to this, the side have been caught out on the counter-attack on many occasions which is why Koeman wants a winger that they can depend on.

Everton's next four fixtures

  • JAN 15 - Man City (H) - EPL
  • JAN 21 - Crystal Palace (A) - EPL
  • FEB 2 - Stoke City (A) - EPL
  • FEB 4 - Bournemouth (H) - EPL

Toornstra has been one of Feyenoord’s best players this campaign, so his price tag would be around £15m-£20m, which shouldn’t be a problem for Everton.

WILLIAN JOSE (REAL SOCIEDAD)

A lot of pressure is on Lukaku, who is on 11 league goals so far, whilst the club’s second top goal-scorer is only on three goals. With the club in need of an experienced and clinical forward, Willian Jose would be the perfect signing who has potential to become a key asset should Everton continue to fight for a top six finish in the league.

Willian Jose is on nine league goals so far this season, scoring in crucial games against Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. With Lukaku needing a partner alongside him in strike, the Brazilian fits the profile of someone who is a mobile forward that can overcome defenders with his burst of speed and agility.

Real Sociedad will not be looking to sell their top goal-scorer, but with Moshiri investing quite a lot of money, the Spanish side could receive an offer that they can’t reject.

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How United's unsung hero is showing shades of Roy Keane

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Is Herrera the standout performer for United this season?

With Manchester United in the midst of a six-game winning run in the Premier League, and an unbeaten streak that stretches back 14 games, it seems Jose Mourinho has finally righted the ship after a troubled start to his Old Trafford reign.

While Zlatan Ibrahimovic has stunned observers with his largely seamless adaptation to the Premier League at the ripe old age of 35, and Paul Pogba has begun living up to his reputation and price tag, one player arguably equally important to United’s resurgence has flown under the radar.

Ander Herrera was highly coveted among the Old Trafford heirarchy well before his eventual move to United in 2014, with David Moyes having failed with a bid to land the Spaniard a year earlier. Louis Van Gaal finally brought Herrera from Athletic Bilbao, but the midfielder endured a frustrating two seasons under the Dutchman, with confusion over his best position and his role in the side.

However, Herrera has come into his own under Mourinho, proving himself vital to the United cause over the course of the season. Herrera was shuffled across the midfield under Van Gaal, playing as a deep-lying midfielder on some occasions and as a No. 10 on others, but Mourinho has given Herrera a defined role.

Playing at the base of the United midfield, but with the license and intelligence to make telling attacking runs, Herrera has been one of the team’s outstanding performers, and allowed the likes of Paul Pogba to shine. Other than the 4-0 debacle at Chelsea, United have not lost a single Premier League game this season when Herrera has started.

N’Golo Kante’s work mopping up in midfield for champions Leicester City last season drew widespread recognition, yet this season the Frenchman has competition in Herrera, who has the highest number of interceptions, 55, among Premier League midfielders. Herrera also has the same number of tackles as Kante this season.

Among United midfielders, Herrera has made the highest number of clearances, and only Pogba and Marouane Fellaini – two players with greater height and physicality – have won a higher percentage of aerial duels.

But Herrera doesn’t shine only in the defensive aspects of the game. The Spaniard is third among Premier League midfielders in number of successful passes this season, and has a greater passing accuracy than the two midfielders above him, Pogba and Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson.

At Manchester United, Herrera trails only natural attacking players and playmakers Ibrahimovic, Pogba, and Juan Mata in chances created. The 27-year-old has also chipped in with three Premier League assists.

But beyond his statistics, Herrera’s greatest value to Mourinho’s United is his phenomenal work rate. In some games Herrera seems to be everywhere, making crucial interventions in defence, bringing the ball out from the back, setting up United’s attacks and salvaging those attacks that break down in the final third of the pitch. He truly covers every blade of grass. It was this aspect of his game that saw him earn the Man-of-the-Match award as United battled to a 0-0 draw at the home of bitter rivals Liverpool.

His energy and commitment are reminiscent of United legend Roy Keane, and indeed, at times this season it has seemed that if Herrera were running around Old Trafford wearing Keane’s old shirt, nobody would blink an eye.

If there is one knock on Herrera this season, it is that he doesn’t score enough goals, especially in a team that needs others to take the goalscoring burden off of Ibrahimovic’s shoulders. Herrera has scored with some stunning finishes and superb volleys during his time at United, but his tally this season is only one, and zero in the Premier League.

Often this season, Herrera has been looking for the spectacular, shooting from long range and seeing his attempts go horribly wayward. But while the wasted chances may frustrate his manager, Mourinho is surely satisfied by having found the sort of midfielder he values most – the one capable of and willing to do the dirty work in midfield.

Perhaps the most Ander Herrera moment of Herrera’s Manchester United career came under Van Gaal, last season. As United fans will no doubt recall, Anthony Martial scored a memorable injury-time winner in the team’s dramatic FA Cup semi-final win over Everton last season.

It was preceded by Herrera receiving the ball, trying to pull off a clever turn which didn’t quite work, battling to retain control of the ball, and then, while falling down, sticking out his foot to deliver the perfect through ball to Martial.

Ugly, not flashy. Battling, not beautiful. Not stylish, but substantial. Herrera is certainly capable of turning it on, and has had some glorious moments as a United player, but his value to Mourinho is that above everything else – quietly, effectively, Herrera gets the job done.

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