This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Andrew Robertson has described Roberto Firmino as “world class” following his impressive start to the season, and the Brazilian is certainly deserving of plaudits, as he is often overlooked in favour of his teammates.
Mo Salah and Sadio Mane often grab the headlines due to their goalscoring prowess, but Firmino has been just as integral to the front three over the last few years, and has chipped in with his own contribution too.
It is not just his attacking form which makes him stand out, however. He is also key to Liverpool’s effective pressing system, which allows them to defend from the front and recover possession.
As reported by the Evening Standard, Roberston said: “With his work-rate, his technique, his goals and his all-round play, I don’t think there’s anyone like him.
“What he does is so important to our team. We’d be lost without him. He’s world class. He does everything, and that’s the beauty of Bobby. He can do it all. He’s our first line of defence, and I’ve not seen anybody better at doing that.
“He presses the defenders and doesn’t give them a minute. He comes back and nicks the ball in midfield for us.”
The Scotland international makes a bold claim in suggesting Liverpool would be lost without him, but it is true that they would be a different outfit.
There aren’t too many strikers, particularly in the Premier League, who can link play as effectively and the way he brings Salah and Mane into play is very useful for the Reds.
This season, in terms of passes he has, on average [according to Wyscout], made 31 and received 25 respectively per game, whilst he has averaged three through-balls per game – releasing his attacking teammates to enable them to score the goals they do.
Often, strikers such as him are limited in other areas, but Firmino has the pace and skill to trouble defences, and both of his goals so far have been decent finishes.
Also, as Roberston suggests, Firmino’s work off the ball continues to be invaluable for his side. On average he has made three interceptions per game this season, with three recoveries in the opposition half to add to that.
That ensures that he not only wins the ball back for his side, but gains possession in threatening positions, allowing the Reds to exert their dominance over the opposition and ultimately create more goalscoring opportunities.
With Mane and Salah supposedly falling out over a lack of teamwork, Firmino’s presence in the team cannot be underestimated, and as long as he helps his side continue to tick, he will be one of their most crucial players.