LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Friday, January 5, 2018: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino during the FA Cup 3rd Round match between Liverpool FC and Everton FC, the 230th Merseyside Derby, at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

How Roberto Firmino’s off-ball work makes him the Premier League’s “most underrated” player

Jamie Carragher believes Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino is “one of the most underrated players in the Premier League,” with his off-ball work key.

Firmino has shone since being installed as Jurgen Klopp‘s first-choice striker last season, and so far this term has scored 17 and assisted nine in 31 games.

The Brazilian netted once and laid on another for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as Liverpool surged to a 4-3 victory at home to Man City on Sunday evening.

And speaking after that Anfield victory, Carragher lauded Firmino’s all-round game, highlighting why he is so underrated compared to the likes of Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku and Sergio Aguero.

“Firmino is one of the most underrated players in the Premier League,” he told Sky Sports.

“He’s highly rated by Jurgen Klopp but outside Liverpool he’s not mentioned when talked about top strikers.

“He’s got 17 goals this season—he’s the first name on the teamsheet.

“Yes, you’ve got Salah and Mane, but Firmino’s holdup play and work off the ball makes him one of the best attacking players in the Premier League. He’s a top player.”

Firmino’s output in front of goal has steadily improved since joining from Hoffenheim in 2015, but as statistics from Oulala prove, his defensive efforts have been consistently top-level:

Beyond being the Premier League‘s joint-sixth highest scorer with 10 goals, and joint-13th in terms of assists, with five, Firmino is a standout talent off the ball.

No forward has won more tackles than the 26-year-old (125) since the start of the 2015/16 campaign, with second-best Jordan Ayew (88) producing considerably fewer throughout his spells with Aston Villa and Swansea City.

Widely coveted for his blend of industry and attacking quality, Arsenal‘s Alexis Sanchez has won 46 fewer tackles than Firmino, with 79.

Interestingly the Chilean, who has drawn interest from Man United, Man City and Chelsea this month, has also scored fewer goals (38) than Firmino in the past season-and-a-half (39).

Firmino has also tallied the second-most interceptions (55) since his move to Merseyside, with only Marko Arnautovic (59) making more for Stoke City and West Ham.

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 17, 2017: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino during the FA Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Liverpool at the Vitality Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Impressively, no forward in the English top flight has made more successful tackles and interceptions combined than Firmino (180) since August 2015.

Ayew is his closest rival, with 138, highlighting the chasm between Liverpool’s No. 9 and any other striker as a front-footed option.

In short, the Brazil international is the ideal centre-forward for Klopp, and with the Reds hoping to tie him down to a new long-term contract, he is certainly not underrated at Anfield.

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