Playing between goalscoring wingers Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané, Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino has revolutionized the role of the false nine. He is a center forward whose importance as a player can’t be measured by looking at how many goals he has scored alone.
While many do see the value of Firmino’s playmaking and defensive work rate, there will always be those who judge him based purely on how often he puts the ball in the net. Fortunately, the Brazilian attacker knows how important his role is, and he is not bothered by the fact that he isn’t Liverpool’s main goalscoring threat.
“I don’t see it that way,” Firmino recently told Globo Esporte when asked how it felt to make sacrifices to set up his teammates for goals rather than scoring them himself.
“Each one has a very well-defined role on the field. It is a team that has been playing together for some time and we know each other very well. We play for each other, for Liverpool, and that makes a difference.”
It’s not a surprising response from a player who has worked tirelessly to help Liverpool be successful in any way he can since he arrived in 2015. Firmino has played all over the pitch and been a positive influence from the beginning. He is able to help Liverpool no matter what role he is asked to play, and he credits manager Jürgen Klopp for helping him develop into such a versatile player.
“In addition to being an excellent coach, Klopp is a sensational guy, with a huge heart, and I can say that if I’m a better player today, it’s a lot thanks to him,” admitted Firmino.
“We’ve known each other since German football and, here at Liverpool, we’ve been together for six years. Today, I feel comfortable playing in more than one position, I have more freedom to move and also help in marking.”
That freedom to move and willingness to track back is what makes it nigh on impossible to measure Firmino’s value in goals scored. His influence is felt across the entire pitch over the course of a match, and there are very few in football who are capable of playing the role he typically plays.