Philippe Coutinho pips Neymar to be named best Brazilian player in Europe

The Liverpool star was awarded the Samba Gold award

Coutinho, Liverpool, Brazil,

Image: Paul Harding EMPICS Sport

Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho has been named the best Brazilian footballer in Europe for 2016 as he picks up the Samba Gold award. 

The prize, given to the best Brazilian player in Europe every year by the Sambafoot company, saw the player top a poll made up of journalists, current and ex-professionals and supporters. 

Speaking to the Liverpool website, manager Jurgen Klopp said that Coutinho had made "a big, big step" in his development this year, which has been recognised by him begin named the best Brazilian player in Europe. 

Coutinho scored 13 times for Liverpool in 2016, while also breaking into the Brazil team and finding the back of the net on a number of occasions, including a memorable goal against Argentina. 

Previous winners of the award include Kaka, Thiago Silva and Neymar.

Currently out of action with an ankle injury, the news will be both welcome and somewhat unwelcome for Liverpool fans. Given his stunning run of form since his arrival at Anfield, in particular under Klopp, persistent transfer rumours have linked him to a move to Spain, perhaps even to Barcelona alongside Neymar. 

While the award is unlikely to make him a more attractive transfer target, it does draw further attention to his importance to the team and just how much the Brazilian international has contributed in the last 12 months.

Coutinho is still recovering from the ligament damage done to his ankle in the game against Sunderland. While he had been training in advance of their match against Manchester City, Klopp stated that it was still too early for him to return, and that he may also miss the game on January 2nd as he looks to ensure the Brazilian is back to his best before risking him.