In the summer of 2015, Memphis Depay was the main target for most of the big clubs in England and Manchester United won that race. Roberto Firmino’s transfer to Liverpool was largely muted as Depay dominated the headlines. However, the Brazilian has proved to be the more successful signing and in a time of hyper inflated prices, £29 million feels like a steal.
The 26 year old has gone from strength to strength each season whilst on Merseyside and he has bettered his goal scoring record each season in the Premier League. With ten goals in his first season, he managed one more the following season and notched up 15 goals in the season just gone. With one goal against Leicester City already he is expected to better his previous tally last year.
However, he was even more productive in the Champions League last year as he helped Liverpool all the way to the final. He found the back of the net eleven times in 15 games en route to Kiev and was instrumental in the 5-2 semi-final win over Roma. He was even named in the Champions League side of the year.
Since the departure of Phillipe Coutinho, the “fab four” became the “fab three” and Firmino has continued to cause destruction with his strike partners Mohammed Salah and Sadio Mane. The three of them combined to score 91 goals between them last season in all competitions. Considering none of them play as a conventional number nine it is astounding.
All eyes are usually on Salah but Firmino is probably more important to how they play for Liverpool. He is able to find the killer pass for his other striking companions, he can move the ball quickly after holding it up for other players to catch up and he is not afraid to run at defenders at will. But more importantly he can contribute defensively, he will track back and help his fullbacks, who have normally marauded forward themselves, so that they are not caught on the counter.
This sentiment is backed up by his fellow teammate Sadio Mane. He feels that a lot of the attention is focused on him and Salah but that Firmino does not get the credit he deserves. He describes him as “an animal” because of his intense work rate to make things happen as a collective for Liverpool.
It is true that the Brazilian is overlooked and the same could be said about the national team as he is often used as a substitute. However, at Liverpool he is a regular starter and one of the first names on Jurgen Klopp’s team sheet and rightly so. Liverpool would not function as well as they do attackingly if it wasn’t for Roberto Firmino.