Few players in recent memory have made an impact after signing in January like Luis Diaz did when joining Liverpool. Then there’s Mohamed Salah, the club’s top earner and a Ballon d’Or contender. Then there’s new record signing Darwin Nuñez.
To start the 2022-23 season, though, the Reds’ in-form forward is Roberto Firmino, the man in many ways synonymous with Jürgen Klopp’s time at the club. The striker who defines the tactics, sets the press, and makes his teammates tick.
“I’m always going to give my all so I can stand the best chance of playing,” he said when asked about the new challenge post by the addition, in Nuñez, of another striker competing for minutes. “Nuñez is a good friend and I think he’ll help us a lot.
“It comes down to the coach’s decision. Obviously there’s always going to be competition in every position, but we’re a team and what counts is what’s best for Liverpool, getting the three points, and what’s best for the team.”
With two games a week there will be plenty of minutes to go around, but with points unexpectedly hard to come by early in the season for a side that expected to lead the way alongside Manchester City, Firmino’s contributions are hard to overlook.
Liverpool have looked better—and gotten better results—with Firmino linking play, and it may be that rather than it being a question of him or Nuñez, the question manager Klopp will have to answer is how to get both on the pitch together.
As for results, it can be easy to feel some fatalism even a month in watching Manchester City steamroll opponents, but it will be a long, complicated season—more so due to the winter World Cup—with plenty of chances to change the narrative.
“It wasn’t the start we wanted, we drew some games and lost one, but we haven’t lost since and we’ve tried to improve,” Firmino added. “It’s a long season, there’s a lot of games ahead, and we’re not going to give up until the final matchday.”