Despite scoring 27 goals and adding 17 assists this season, and despite being arguably the most important player for a side heading to the Champions League final next week, Roberto Firmino still doesn’t get the respect his play as a striker deserves.
Most England fans would pick Tottenham’s Harry Kane as the Premier League’s top striker, and back in Brazil the consensus is that Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus has done enough to prove he should be the man to lead their nation into the World Cup.
Firmino, though, does have his share of fans—and it’s not just fans of Liverpool. There’s also Arsenal legend Theirry Henry, who’s been a vocal supporter of Firmino in the past and has now called him the league’s most complete striker.
“His movement, his work-rate, the way he makes the two central defenders move to allow Mo Salah to make those runs,” Henry said on Sky when asked why he rates Firmino ahead of the likes of Kane and Jesus and Sergio Aguero and Romelu Lukaku.
Firmino may not be the fastest striker in the league or even the best finisher, but nobody adds more to a side as a player who can elevate the attackers around him—and who this season proved he can chip in with more than his fair share of goals, too.
For those who have watched him, the idea that he won’t start for Brazil has to seem a little odd, especially when having Neymar and Jesus to either side of him feels like it would get similar results to having Mané and Salah flanking him at Liverpool.
Liverpool fans, though, know how good he is—that beyond the goals and headlines, he’s probably the most irreplaceable player in the current side. And Henry knows that, too. As for the rest, it’s still not too late for the rest of the world to come around.
“Firmino is the most complete striker in the league,” Henry added. “I’m talking about all round—he’s the most complete in the league.”