Roberto Firmino doesn’t make sense.
In 27 Premier League starts this season:
Firmino has scored 14 goals and has blocked 19 shots
Firmino has 7 assists and has made 55 tackles
Firmino has scored 4 times this season without looking at the goal.
In a season where Mohamed Salah is rightly taking the plaudits for his incredible goal tally, Liverpool’s latest lead striker is quietly doing a little bit of everything.
Since Fernando Torres left Anfield in 2011 the famous number 9 shirt has been worn by; Andy Carroll, Iago Aspas, Rickie Lambert and Christian Benteke. Finally the Reds have found the man to break the curse.
But he couldn’t be further from the typical Premier League striker.
Firmino is slowly destroying stereotypes. Historically, picking up a lightweight South American forward from the Bundesliga is not necessarily the most guaranteed route to transfer success. A quick look at the highlighted hair and those famous teeth make it very easy to judge him as a prima donna. Perhaps these are the reasons that it has taken while for his work rate to be fully appreciated. Firmino is a bulldog disguised as a pedigree poodle.Embed from Getty Images
With the modern fan though, work rate will only get you so far. Fortunately for the Kopites the Brazilian is now producing the statistical output to match the heart and desire. Somewhat overshadowed by Salah’s ridiculous debut season, Firmino has 24 goals in all competitions this campaign. He has 7 in just 8 games in the Champions League. Liverpool, alongside Quarter Final opponents Manchester City, have become England’s great entertainers. The vast majority of viewers are tuning in for the chance to watch the dazzling front three.
It is testament to Firmino and his teammates that there has barely been a mention of fellow countryman Phillipe Coutinho since his departure in January. Rather than lament the loss of their creative spark, Liverpool’s star players took the load upon themselves. At least one of Firmino, Mane and Salah have scored in 24 of Liverpool’s 30 league games this season. Any fantasy football players will know that when one of the three scores they have usually been assisted by either of the others. Their movement and interplay has become integral to the progress Jurgen Klopp’s men have made this year.
All that is lacking at Anfield now is some silverware. This current squad, and Firmino himself, will need to win something if they are to be remembered amongst the greats of days gone by. In the meantime, though, they have brought back the enjoyment of watching football and there is an awful lot to be said for that.Embed from Getty Images
Roberto Firmino, in combining backheels with blocks and skills with sprints, embodies everything that the club is looking to become. “I’m a player who works hard and who’s constantly looking to support my teammates on the pitch,” said Firmino on arrival in 2015.
“I’m a player with an attitude and who knows how to play a tactical role with the team.” Fast forward three years and he has fully backed up his words. He and the team are learning to win and win convincingly whilst maintaining a sense of style. It is great fun to watch this front three but not as much fun as it looks to play in it. Liverpool’s most unorthodox of number 9s now looks every bit the modern striker.
At present Liverpool’s future is looking brighter than the Brazilian’s trademark grin. Firmino has shown that it’s worth having great teeth when you have plenty of reasons to smile.
Written by Dan Fox.