Roberto Firmino: The Main Cog in Liverpool’s Machine

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When watching a match, you might not see Firmino’s role in Liverpool’s system. However when you watch him you understand: he is the system.

Andres Colmenares takes a look at the pivotal role the Brazilian number nine plays.

This current team could be one of, if not the greatest Liverpool side ever assembled.

Virgil van Dijk is considered the greatest centre-half in the world right now and came second in the Ballon d’Or.

Alisson Becker, the first goalkeeper in history to win three golden gloves in a season, and of course Mohammed Salah.

Salah has won back-to-back golden boots and holds the record for most goals in a single Premier League season.

There are world-class players on the squad, however, one happens to be overlooked more often than not.

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That’s despite being one of, even though he potentially is the most important player on the team.

Roberto Firmino is Liverpool’s most important player because of his position, unselfishness, and underrated threat in front of goal.

Firmino receives praise from ex-footballers like Thiery Henry, who called him “the most complete striker in the league”.

However, he still receives a lot of criticism from fans of other clubs due to his goal-scoring record.

More than just goals

Although the Brazillian may not have the goal-scoring record that his teammates Mohammed Salah and Sadio Mané have, his main contribution is not putting balls in the back of the net.

To understand how Firmino is such an important part of the way Jurgen Klopp’s team plays, you have to look at his position. Roberto Firmino is classified by most as a “False 9”.

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As the name suggests, the False 9 does not play that traditional striker role of staying upfront and waiting for the ball to be delivered to him by his midfielders and wingers, instead, the False 9 will actually drop back all the way into the midfield.

The purpose of this is to disrupt the opposing team’s backline and force them to get out of position and create gaps for the wingers, and this is what Roberto Firmino thrives at.

By dropping back into the midfield, he can also help by winning balls back and starting the crucial counter attacks that Liverpool love to play on by helping transition the ball quickly from the midfield to Salah and Mane.

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Without Firmino, Klopp’s playstyle is not as effective. Of course, Liverpool has been able to perform well without him, such as the incredible comeback at Anfield against Barcelona.

But more often than not, they struggle when he is out of the team.  

Liverpool just aren’t the same without him

Firmino’s dribbling is outstanding and his subtle flick-passes are things of beauty, making grown men giggle like schoolgirls.

He oozes Brazillian flair on the pitch but always remains humble and unselfish.

It might not seem obvious, but Firmino’s unselfishness and level ego is another aspect that makes him so special.

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Firmino’s job is one that is sometimes thankless.

He might have helped create an important goal, but if he didn’t assist or score it, he receives no credit.

He will even get slated on social media by rival fans and even pundits who do not understand the game.

This would infuriate players with fragile egos, but not Firmino.

Sacrificing himself for the greater good

He doesn’t argue, he doesn’t throw a tantrum, he just goes out does his job.

He couldn’t care less about receiving credits from outsiders because he knows he’s appreciated by everyone associated with Liverpool.

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Even with his unconventional role and the lack of recognition he gets, Firmino is deadly in front of goal.

He’s received criticism this season due to his lack of goals despite having 18 goal contributions in all competitions.

These include two winning goals in the Club World Cup, two against Leicester on Boxing Day, and the only goal against Tottenham this weekend.

His position might not give him the most chances to score, however that doesn’t mean he lacks the ability to.

An under-rated modern great?

According to Transfermarkt, during his time at Liverpool, he has averaged .71 goal contributions per 90. Compare that to Dennis Bergkamp, who is considered to be an Arsenal and Premier League legend. Bergkamp averaged .58 goal contributions per 90.

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This not insinuating average goal contribution per 90 is the be-all-end-all stat.

However, it shows the massive double standard that Firmino has had to endure.

No matter what the idiots of the internet will say, Roberto “Bobby” Firmino is the key player of Liverpool’s starting XI and is adored by Reds all around the globe

As Jurgen Klopp said, “Mo Salah, world-class, but not every day. Sadio Mané, world-class, but not every day. Roberto Firmino, world-class, pretty much every day”.

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