If someone were to ask you who the first name on the teamsheet for Jürgen Klopp is at Liverpool and you weren’t to answer Roberto Firmino, you wouldn’t have been paying attention. The 26-year-old Brazilian has stepping into the striker role this season and made it his own.
He’s added goals and finishing to his stellar workrate, notching 19 all all competitions to go with 10 assists and making for a goal involvement every 91 minutes so far. Amongst the Premier League’s top ten scorers, nobody is outpacing their expected goal return as much as Firmino.
“He’s very important,” Klopp said of his striker who is, by any reasonable measure, in the midst of a world class, career-defining season. “We have a lot of quality in the team of course, but sometimes not really consistent all the time. But Roberto delivers, delivers, and delivers.”
Mohamed Salah may have more goals, Sadio Mané may have more pace, and—before he was sold—Philippe Coutinho more flair, but there is no player more important to Liverpool’s attack than Firmino. And it’s not just in attack where he’s important to how Klopp wants to play.
Off the ball, too, his willingness to hassle and harry, to set the press from the front and to cover for his wingers when they have run past him and the ball has been turned over, make him even more indispensable. And now, perhaps belatedly, he’s starting to be recognised for just how good he is.
“He doesn’t score all the time, he is not always brilliant, but when he is not brilliant then he works like a horse,” Klopp added of a player who’s made a strong case that he’s one of the league’s top two strikers this season. “It’s very important that you have this kind of stability there.”