It’s difficult to argue that Mohamed Salah isn’t Liverpool’s best player. In fact, on form he’s one of the three best attackers in the world. But if you tweak the question to ask which is the club’s most important player and the answer becomes Roberto Firmino.
He’s the one who sets Jürgen Klopp’s press, who defends from the front, whose movement creates space for Salah—and who has also chipped in 25 goals. Salah’s the best at what he does, but there simply isn’t another player who does what Firmino does.
“He has his own style and that makes him special,” former Red Dirk Kuyt told the club’s official website. “A typical goalscorer or different kind of striker, you see that a lot in Europe, but Firmino has his own style and he has his own speciality.”
It’s a style—a specialty—that can’t help but remind people of how Kuyt played at Anfield. The tireless pressing, the work-rate, the important goals but also an unselfishness in front off goal, a willingness to cede the goalscoring limelight to teammates.
“He’s a great goalscorer but he’s also a team player in everything he does,” Kuyt continued. “I don’t know him quite well [personally], but playing he just wants to win with the team and he’s not the type of player who wants to score for himself.
“That, for me, is the biggest thing of Firmino. He’s scoring great goals but he’s also giving great assists and, in my eyes, a complete player who is a great thing for Liverpool. I think he’s also a very hard worker, he’s selfless and working hard.”
Amongst players generally and beyond the goal scoring, what Firmino does is hard to come by. Amongst strikers, there might not be another player in the game right now doing what Firmino does, and Liverpool’s entire game is built around him.
And with the rest of the team—and especially the defence—growing more settled and solid, it’s an increasingly special side fans are seeing now with Firmino as attacking fulcrum point, a player who even when he doesn’t score is key to every success.
“I watch almost all the games and the games I see then he’s always giving his everything,” the Dutchman added. “Sometimes he’s not scoring goals or giving assists, but for one thing he is always giving his everything.”