It’s easy to forget that it was Brendan Rodgers, rather than Jurgen Klopp, who signed Roberto Firmino for Liverpool.
The Northern Irish coach brought the Brazilian forward to Anfield in a £29 million deal from Hoffenheim months before he was sacked by the club in October 2015.
Firmino became the Reds’ second most expensive player at the time and Klopp, who replaced Rodgers at Liverpool, was a huge fan of the player from early on.
“There was a time, I would say one year ago, when for a few months he was for sure the best player in the Bundesliga,” Klopp said of Firmino shortly after his arrival at Anfield. “From his first day [at Hoffenheim], everybody could see he would be a very, very good player, and when Liverpool took him I thought they had made a good choice.
“Of course he’s been injured and he needs time when he comes in, but when he’s in he’s strong with the ball—he’s physically unusually strong. He’s fast in a good football way with the ball, getting his body between his opponent and the ball. He’s an important player for us.”
The wasn’t much fanfare following Firmino’s arrival as he was something of an unknown quantity in England.
However, the South American has flourished under Klopp and is now widely considered one of the most important – if not *the* most important player – at Liverpool right now.
IAN WRIGHT DROPS HIS HONEST OPINION ABOUT FIRMINO
Firmino has scored an excellent 27 goals in 48 appearances this season, a tally only overshadowed at Anfield by Mohamed Salah.
But it’s his all-round play, rather than his goals, which helps make Liverpool tick in the final third of the pitch.
Following the Reds’ 5-2 victory over AS Roma in the Champions League semi-final first leg on Tuesday night, former Arsenal striker Ian Wright said something about the Brazil international which is bound to spark plenty of debate.
Wright, who was a fine centre-forward himself back in his day, has claimed that Firmino is the best No. 9 he’s seen.
‘I’VE NOT SEEN ANYONE DO IT AS WELL AS HE DOES’
“His capabilities, his ability, what he brings to the team,” Wright said on Sky Sports. “I think it’s [Cristiano] Ronaldo who has got more goals and assists than him, I read something about that.
“But his consistency and the way he plays that No 9 role and drops in, he’ll pop up on the right and left, I just think he is fantastic.
“He is somebody I believe Liverpool have to make sure they sign up for a long time.
“If you look at the way he plays in that No. 9 role, I’m not sure who else can come in and replicate how he plays.
“I’m not sure who else could do that and he’s the best I’ve seen at it.
“I’ve not seen anyone else do it as well as he does.”
Praise doesn’t come much higher than that.
There’s no doubt that Firmino is world class at what he does – but is he really the best No. 9 on the planet at the moment?