When people talk about who the best no 10 is in the Premier League names such as Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Mesut Ozil and our own Brazilian magician Coutinho’s names all continually crop up and rightfully so, but where is Firmino in this conversation?
Now we know Firmino took a while to get into his stride at Liverpool but since Klopp waltzed through the Anfield door Firmino has been arguably our most consistent performer in the space of that last 6-8 months.
It took Firmino till November to grab his first goal for Liverpool in a 4-1 victory over Manchester City, where he laid down a real marker with his performance that day. His start to life at Liverpool was frustrating with former boss Brendan Rodgers not sure how best to utilise the Brazilian, he started on the bench a lot and when he played he was shoved into an unnatural position which didn’t suit him at the time.
Since November he has kicked on and finished our top goal scorer last season with 10 goals in the Premier League and has greatly helped our attacking side of the game where he has featured as a false nine for a lot of his Liverpool career.
At just 24 maybe it was natural for the Brazilian, who played in Germany before coming to England, to take a while to adjust to a new lifestyle and playing style but no doubt Klopp instilled the belief in Firmino to push on and become a key player for the Reds. Klopp’s style of play is similar to what most German sides play in the Bundesliga, a high pressing game built on energy and technique just look at Dortmund who executed it brilliantly under Klopp and punished teams for any mistakes.
Firmino is such a versatile player that he can play as a false nine, a number 10, a central midfielder and now he’s even playing on the wing. How many players can pull this off? Ozil cannot play anywhere else but no 10, Payet is used as a winger mostly who cuts inside and only recently have Silva and De Bruyne started playing more as central midfielders instead of number tens. Put Ozil on the wing and he will not get into the game or help out in the defensive side of the game like Firmino does. This is not me being critical of Ozil who is a fantastic player but this versatility is what Firmino brings us and he bags goals in every position he plays for us.
Firmino scores more goals than any other no ten in the Premier League overall bar De Bruyne who scored 7 goals in the Premier League having played 25 games, Ozil scored 8 goals last season and Silva scored 2 goals last season with 12 goals being his best campaign in the 2014-15 season. Firmino scored his 10 goals in the space of 7 months having not registered a goal for the first 3 months of his Liverpool career. Now I know purely goals don’t just matter and I’m not just looking at his stats but he makes a big difference in big games that we play, whether it was his performance against Manchester City last season, his brace against Arsenal last season too, his vital goal against Manchester United in the europa league last 16 or his recent performance and brace against the champions Leicester just three days ago. And he’s just getting started is the feel I get from the 24 year old who should be targeting around 15 goals this season maybe.
Now the critics will say he goes missing at times and that’s a true statement, but name me a number 10 in the world who doesn’t go missing at times? Payet? Ozil? 80million signing Paul Pogba? Our own Coutinho? They all do, in fact name me a player in any outfield position that doesn’t go missing at times bar Messi or Ronaldo who are out of this world? The point is every player goes missing and is this statement labelled at Ozil who gets such praise but has so many games where he’s just not involved etc.
Liverpool supporters know the talent he has but ask any neutral or pundit what they think about Firmino and they won’t mention his as one of the top players in the Premier League or even in his position. I would argue that Firmino is on a fast track to becoming our star player ahead of Coutinho who can be brilliant at times and is more creative than Firmino but he does go missing more than Firmino arguably.
Firmino has scored 3 goals this season already and has created the most chances in the Premier League so far this season, which means he is adding creativity to his game to go with his relentless pressing and goalscoring exploits. Bar the Burnley game, where every Liverpool player on the pitch were poor, Firmino has excelled against the likes of Arsenal, Tottenham and Leicester from his added creative depth to his exquisite touch against Leicester where he controlled a ball coming out of the air with such ease to his first goal where he turned the defender inside out before giving one of the best goalkeepers last season Kasper Schmeical the eyes and tucked the ball into the opposite corner.
This article is a bit of due praise for Firmino who so rarely gets it, from even our own supporters. I’m not saying he’s the best player in the Premier League as he is not but he needs to be recognized for the top player he is and the Brazilian is definitely up there with the best players in the Premier League.