Jamie Carragher agrees with Gary Neville over ‘new Roberto Firmino’ claim

Gary Neville’s claim that Kai Havertz was emulating Roberto Firmino at Arsenal drew criticism from Liverpool fans, but colleague Jamie Carragher has agreed.

Following Arsenal‘s 1-0 victory over Man United on Sunday, Neville lavished praise on Havertz and compared his role to that of Firmino at Liverpool.

“He’s subservient to the team, he’ll do whatever the team needs in the game,” Neville explained in a chat with Peter Drury on Sky Sports.

He added: “I always used to mention Firmino, because I used to think the way he played connected midfield into the attack, and Havertz is doing something similar.”

That was branded ‘disrespectful’ by many on social media, with Firmino’s influence at Liverpool acknowledged even by rival fans.

But Carragher gave a similar view in the Sky Sports studio prior to kickoff.

“I think Arsenal right now are as good as anyone in Europe and probably the world defensively and at making it tough for teams,” Carragher said.

“They have definitely improved in 2024 from the first half of the season, and one of the reasons is the role of Kai Havertz.”

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 28, 2023: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino (R) celebrates after scoring the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Comparing Havertz to Firmino, he continued: “When I think of great centre-forwards in the Premier League who haven’t been great goalscorers, the one that comes to mind is Firmino at Liverpool and the work he did off the ball.

“How often did we talk about that Liverpool team, with Firmino being deep, helping the midfield, and the wide players being in a position to penetrate?”

Carragher analysed a goal from Leandro Trossard during Arsenal‘s 3-0 win over Bournemouth earlier this month and how Havertz was “absolutely shattered” due to his input.

“Trossard on one side, Saka on the other. The centre-backs are not quite sure who they should pick up. They have been dragged out of position,” he explained.

“Look at the reaction of all the players [after Trossard scores the goal]. Everyone is celebrating, because they know the second goal is the relief.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 23, 2023: Liverpool's Wataru Endo (R) is fouled by Arsenal's Kai Havertz during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Arsenal FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“But look at Havertz. He is shattered. He is not celebrating because he’s absolutely knackered.

“He is on his haunches, absolutely shattered, because of the work he is doing for the team. Absolutely fantastic.”

When Havertz was still at Bayer Leverkusen he was earmarked as a potential successor to Firmino, with reports of interest from Liverpool emerging as early as 2017.

His initial struggles after switching to the Premier League with first Chelsea and then Arsenal made that seem laughable, but perhaps there is a kernel of truth in this latest comparison.