Roberto Firmino is one of the most admired players in the Liverpool squad by team-mates and fans alike, with his technique and work ethic creating a unique match-winner – and that’s why everyone loves him.
It’s no secret that the Brazilian was one of the earliest and most important components of Jurgen Klopp restructuring the team after taking over and he has only gone from strength to strength.
His tactical importance was as much a part of the reason as his on-the-ball ability; it has been a common sight to see Firmino tracking into full-back areas, making recovery tackles in midfield and relentlessly pressing opposition defences into submission.
That all makes him a fan favourite – but a big player for his team-mates to support, too, as evidenced by the celebrations when he scored the opener against Inter Milan in midweek.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Klopp pointed out exactly how much everyone recognises what he gives the team and how it gives everyone a boost, therefore, when the man with the brightest smile on Merseyside is rewarded.
“Bobby is Bobby, if you know him better you’d be even more positive because he’s just an incredible person,” the boss explained.
“When he came on it was the most difficult position on the pitch – Diogo got injured in these fights in the first half, it’s really tricky to keep the ball there and we needed to play in these areas. When he scored the goal you could see everything is back [in the team performance].
“When Bobby is in the mood it helps the team massively.
“We could have scored with anybody but when Bobby scores there’s this extra thing because of how unselfish he is, everyone thinks ‘yeah, come on Bobby, from time to time you should make it yourself’. That’s what he did there.”
Jurgen raised an eyebrow when it was put to him that Firmino had to contend with limited minutes on the pitch this term due to Jota’s free-scoring antics – he might not be starting every week now, but he is still in the club’s ‘main’ 11 players by minutes on the pitch this season.
And with a goal or assist every 110 minutes of action in 21/22, it’s not as if he’s not contributing in a big way, either – just as he did off the bench in the San Siro.
Klopp insisted that was proof that none of the squad should be concerned with not being in any given starting line-up, as they’ll all be needed in different ways and at different times, particularly with more massive games to come.
“I don’t think any of the players should think ‘maybe I won’t get a lot of minutes so I should use the few I get’ because you never know.
“Especially with the quality of Bobby – he could be in each line-up of the team every day because of his quality.
“It was maybe one of the most important away goals we scored so far because it calmed the game down. We got the momentum back 100% in this game – that’s how it is in tight fights with strong opponents, you need an opener.”
Firmino could find himself back on the team-sheet this weekend against Norwich, with Jota sidelined.
Our No9 scored against the Canaries on the opening day of the season, but he has yet to hit the back of the net at Anfield in the Premier League this term and his last league strikes came as part of a hat-trick against Watford in October, shortly before picking up a hamstring strain.