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Klopp Says Roberto Firmino Was “the Best Player in the Bundesliga”

With Liverpool suffering a depth crisis at striker, new manager Jürgen Klopp could turn to the man he believes was the Bundesliga’s best player at times to lead the line.

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

With Liverpool's striker depth depleted and only Divock Origi available for selection amongst the senior players, there has been speculation that Jürgen Klopp could turn to Roberto Firmino as a stand-in to lead the line. It's a possibility that at the very least the manager isn't dismissing out of hand.

"Last time with Brazil he played as a nine," said the manager when asked about the chance Firmino could play as striker this week, either against Bournemouth in the Capital One Cup or Chelsea in the league. "Usually he plays in offensive midfield or second striker or comes from the wing, but he can play in the centre."

Firmino arrived at Liverpool over the summer billed as a versatile attacker who could play anywhere in the attacking third. He's yet to match the level of his performances in the Bundesliga, but he has shown flashes of promise and skill to suggest that it's only a matter of time. It wouldn't hurt if that time was now.

Reports from club-connected journalists that Firmino was a transfer committee buy, and that former manager Brendan Rodgers only signed off on him when promised the club would purchase Christian Benteke—even if it meant triggering his £32.5M release as they did in the end—might go some way to explaining his slow start.

If Rodgers had doubts about Firmino, though, it's unlikely the club's new manager shares them. Klopp got to watch the ex-Hoffenheim man up close for years in the Bundesliga, and he's understandably bullish on a man who almost everybody in Germany considered one of the league's top attacking talents.

"There was a time, I would say one year ago, when for a few months he was for sure the best player in the Bundesliga," added Klopp. "From his first day [at Hoffenheim], everybody could see he would be a very, very good player, and when Liverpool took him I thought they had made a good choice.

"Of course he's been injured and he needs time when he comes in, but when he's in he's strong with the ball—he's physically unusually strong. He's fast in a good football way with the ball, getting his body between his opponent and the ball. He's an important player for us."

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