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Premier League

Peter Beardsley claims Liverpool midfielder Coutinho has already surpassed him and tips the Brazilian to become an Anfield great

Former Reds forward believes the 21-year-old could be the next Kenny Dalglish and feels Brendan Rodgers has got a 'special player' on his hands

Peter Beardsley has backed current Liverpool youngster Philippe Coutinho to develop into an Anfield legend and has tipped him to follow in the footsteps of Kop legend Kenny Dalglish.

The Brazilian attacking midfielder has had a good start to life on Merseyside since his January move, after Liverpool paid Inter Milan £8.5m for his signature. The 21-year-old earned his place in manager Brendan Rodgers side, and Beardsley, who played for the Reds for four years between 1987 and 1991, has claimed that Coutinho has already surpassed him on the pitch.

“I love Coutinho,” Beardsley admitted when speaking to the Liverpool Echo. “He is outstanding and has unbelievable ability.

“He’s better than I ever was and I really mean that. He’s miles better than me.

“If he stays here for a long time he’s got a chance of being as big as Kenny – that kind of stature.

“I look at his ability and I think he could be the new Kenny Dalglish. He is a very special player.”

Beardsley is currently football development manager at Newcastle, and he watched Coutinho’s talent during last season’s 6-0 thrashing of the Magpies at St James’ Park, in which the Brazilian flourished in the heart of the Reds’ midfield.

“I watched him closely that day and he ran the game against us,' said Beardsley.

“It was a smart signing by Brendan (Rodgers). I don’t think anyone saw it coming and he was a real bargain.”

Beardsley is also hopeful that Luis Suarez can be reintegrated into the Liverpool squad, having seemingly put an end to his desire for an Anfield exit.

Arsenal manager called off his attempts to sign Suarez last night when he said he will not be making another bid for the Uruguayan this summer, and having returned to first team training after Rodgers banished him to the reserves, it seems Suarez has a future with the club.

Beardsley believes that the prestige of the number seven shirt and the legendary names that have worn it will show Suarez what he means to the club.

“With the likes of Kenny and Kevin Keegan some special players have worn that number seven shirt and I hope Suarez is wearing it this season,” he said.

“The healing process is underway and I think the fans will forgive him. He’s going to be like a new signing when he has served his ban.”