Expectations are sky-high for Liverpool’s new No. 9. Two years into his time at Anfield, Roberto Firmino has come into his own under Klopp’s tutelage, and his performance last season has been winning rave reviews from Liverpool greats.
“He has been fantastic,” John Barnes told the club’s official website. “He has got fantastic ability. When you look at him, when you look at the way he plays, moves and controls the ball, his awareness, he doesn’t look quick but he’s quick and he moves the ball around.”
Barnes believes that Firmino has grown from an inconsistent (and poorly used) performer under Brendan Rodgers to one of Liverpool’s most reliable players. The change in pace from the Bundesliga to the Premier League was a punishing one, but Firmino adapted well and began to thrive.
“In the big games, the hard games and the tough games [Firmino] just got better and better and better,” Barnes added. “It was ‘Is he going to be able to maintain it?’ I think he was probably one of our most consistent players in the last half of last season.”
“I’m so pleased for him, because you know the ability he has. Because of his style, there are times when games are going well and he’s fantastic, he’s the best player. When he has to work and games get tough, in the early days you could see him dropping out of them – whereas now, he has been fantastic.”
With next season’s focus on the Champions League in addition to the title race, it’ll be wonderful to see Firmino finally break the curse of the 9, but Barnes isn’t ready to place too much pressure on the Brazilian to become Liverpool’s chief goalscorer.
“We have a lot of players like that with Mane, Coutinho, Firmino, Lallana, and now also Salah coming in. We will have a lot of firepower without necessarily having one person to score all the goals.”