Liverpool legend John Barnes has praised Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino for his “fantastic” contributions to Jürgen Klopp’s Reds team.
Roberto Firmino – who signed for the Reds on this day two years ago – has drawn high praise from Liverpool legend John Barnes due to his superb adaptation to the English game.
Firmino, who will wear the coveted no.9 jersey for the Reds from this season onwards, has scored 21 Premier League goals for the Reds in his two seasons on Merseyside, assisting a further 14 and his contributions have not gone unnoticed.
“He has been fantastic,” said Barnes to LiverpoolFC.com.
“It’s difficult, coming to the Premier League as a South American – yes, he was playing in Germany – and particularly the type of player he is.”
“He has got fantastic ability. When you look at him, when you look at the way he plays, moves and controls the ball, his awareness, he doesn’t look quick but he’s quick and he moves the ball around.”
Barnes highlights the Brazilian forward’s growth as a player and ability to continue adding consistency to his game as key contributors towards his growing importance in Klopp’s starting XI.
“I felt he was a little bit inconsistent when he first came,” admitted Barnes.
“Of course, coming from South America and playing in the German league, which is not as frenetic as it is here, I didn’t think he would adapt as he did.”
Firmino’s suitability to the ‘heavy metal’ football that Klopp employs has only become more noticeable as time has gone on and Barnes believes his ability to influence big games – rather than dropping out of them – was key for the Reds last season.
“In the big games, the hard games and the tough games he just got better and better and better. It was ‘Is he going to be able to maintain it?’ I think he was probably one of our most consistent players in the last half of last season.”
“I’m so pleased for him, because you know the ability he has. Because of his style, there are times when games are going well and he’s fantastic, he’s the best player. When he has to work and games get tough, in the early days you could see him dropping out of them – whereas now, he has been fantastic.”
Firmino’s combination play with the likes of Lallana, Coutinho and Mané, in particular, was a joy to watch last season and the Brazilian shares an impressive understanding with his fellow attackers. The forward created a squad-high 76 chances for his teammates in 2016/17, showcasing his impressive creative streak.
It’s this ability that Klopp’s current attackers have to move the ball quickly and decisively that Barnes believes will be key to the Reds successes next season, while he also admits the fact that Firmino is not a recognised number nine doesn’t bother him.
“We have a lot of players like that with Mané, Coutinho, Firmino, Lallana and now also Salah coming in,” Barnes added.
“We will have a lot of firepower without necessarily having one person to score all the goals.”