Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson admits that like many people, he didn’t quite know what to expect when the club splashed £29M to bring in Roberto Firmino from Hoffenheim over the summer. He knew the hype, but hadn’t seen the Bundesliga star play very often.
What he’s seen since the 24-year-old attacker has settled in England has impressed him, as has the hard work Firmino puts in on the training pitch that has helped him to become the focal point in attack and, as things stand, the leading candidate to be named Liverpool’s player of the season for 2015-16.
"Being completely honest, I had seen very little of him before he arrived here from the Bundesliga last year," Henderson told the club’s official magazine when asked about Firmino this week. "Naturally, he needed some time to settle in but he’s been brilliant for us, especially over the last few months."
Firmino is Liverpool’s leading scorer with nine goals and nine assists this season, with the bulk of coming since the start of 2016. Since the new year, he has eight goals and four assists, and if he can continue that pace over the remainder of the year he could easily hit 15 and 15 in his first season at the club.
Even if he doesn’t, though, the foundation has clearly been set for a strong second season at the club, and if Liverpool do go on to do the unlikely and either win the Europa League or make it into the top four, it seems a certainty that Firmino will go down as the man who led them there this season.
"He’s a very, very good player with a lot of skill who also works extremely hard for the team," added the captain. "He’s provided goals and I think he’s much more robust than people realise. Now it’s about him continuing to grow and getting even better."