Roberto Firmino: Liverpool’s underrated and underappreciated talisman

Here I am with a new ‘notes’ page open on my phone with the intention of writing a new article. The subject of the article?

The highly rated yet under-appreciated, Liverpool’s number nine popular for his work rate, crazy celebrations, no-look goals and glistening smile – Roberto Firmino.

Even though there is a lot to write about Bobby, I am sitting here not knowing where to start or what to even focus on in the article.

So to find some sort of inspiration I decide to go on Twitter and type in the letters ‘F-I-R-M-I-N-O’.

Barring a few stupid ‘retweet for Firmino-like for Lukaku’ posts, there are some really interesting stuff on there.

Alright, so the first thing that I came across is an article from Liverpool Echo’s James Pearce titled “Klopp: New contract for Firmino makes perfect sense for everyone”.

As the headline suggests, it probably includes quotes from Klopp on how tying Bobby to a new deal is a good deal for all parties included. While clicking on the article might give me more ideas, I prefer to stick with inspiration just from twitter.

The 26-year-old has two more years left on his contract, but his extreme importance to Klopp’s Reds means that he should be tied down to a bigger and better contract.

It hopefully won’t take long before we see Firmino sitting beside Klopp and signing his new contract – without looking.

Despite having a slow start to his career at Anfield, the former Hoffenheim attacking midfielder has gone onto become a keystone in the current Liverpool setup – helping Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane to score goals for fun.

Speaking of Firmino being a keystone for Liverpool, another eye-catching thing that I came across on Twitter is from The Mirror. Along with a link to one of their recent articles, there is a sentence that goes like this: “Jurgen Klopp claims Roberto Firmino is more important for Liverpool than Philippe Coutinho EVER was”.

On the 6th of January – just a week before the side’s vital fixture against league leaders Manchester City at Anfield, Liverpool’s Little Magician – Philippe Coutinho – Finally got his dream move to Barcelona.

Even though the Catalan giants paid the Reds a fee in excess of £100 million, the departure of the Brazilian was considered to be a void that cannot be filled – at least in such a short span of time.

And since Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain gave his side the lead by finding the back of Ederson’s net with a striker’s finish about eight days later, it surprisingly seems that Liverpool’s midfield is better off without the long-shot specialist.

Okay. I just went a bit off topic and left Firmino, just like people tend to leave him behind despite all his contributions.

So, is Firmino more cardinal for Klopp’s side than his fellow countryman?

First of all, the fact that Liverpool ‘s midfield looks better without Coutinho itself hints that he was in the team because of his individual capabilities than for his ability to work within the system.

With that being said, we all know how important Firmino is to Klopp’s system. It even won’t be wrong to say that Firmino is Klopp’s system. Such is his contribution. He offers even when he is not offering.

Not only is he the fifth top scorer in the league with 13 goals to his name, he is arguably the sole reason for Salah and Mane racking up goal after goal on a consistent basis.

His movement off and on the ball enables his lightning fast wingers to drift inside and get into goalscoring positions – hence resulting in them getting more opportunities than the number nine himself (yet his tally of 22 is nine better than Mane’s 13).

Firmino likes to drop deep down and help his teammates win the ball back, and set up an attack. He may not be the fastest, he may not have the flair of many other Brazilian forwards, but his intelligence and work ethic makes him his side’s pillar.

As I continue to scroll down in the twitter search page, I come across the perfect stat that explains what Firmino is all about. It’s an illustrative image by @FootyAccums that compares Bobby’s ‘completed tackles’ stat with some of the top midfielders in the league.

There is Manchester United’s Paul Pogba with a tally of 18. Then Manchester City’s Fernandinho with 27 followed by Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka with a tally of 34. Again Manchester United’s Nemanja Matic with one more tackle than Xhaka. And then there is Liverpool’s number nine Firmino with 36 completed tackles.

That’s quite a good record for a player who plays upfront right?

When we think about Salah, his pace comes to our minds. When we think about van Dijk, powerful headers come to our minds. When we think about Coutinho, his well struck long rangers are what come to our minds. But when we think about Firmino, bright white smiles and funky celebrations are what strike our minds first.

And that is why Firmino will remain highly rated yet under-appreciated.

 

Written by Dakir Thanveer

Follow Dakir on Twitter @ZakWriter

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