Michael Baddeley investigates who has been the most important player for Liverpool this season.
Well, where do I start with the lads this season? There have been so many players who have stood up and made a massive impact to the side. They’ve all bought into Klopp’s philosophy, there’s a strong bond between the lads, they all play for each other and it seems like they’ve finally realised the potential this team has.
The front three have been electric, Oxlade-Chamberlain has shown the world he is actually a center-midfield, Andy Robertson has proved that you don’t have to pay mega millions to get a quality player and Virgil Van Dijk has started to help seal up that defensive line.
You go through the team and there are six or seven players who could all stake claim for being Klopp’s most important player this season. I could sit here all day and compliment the boys and after what they’ve done this season they all deserve it, but that’s not what I’m here to do, I’m here to look at who I think has been the most important player for the team this season.
Like I said, there’s so many who have made an impact and they’re all important in their own way. But if I had to pick one, then I think I would have to choose the man whose teeth are brighter than my future – Roberto Firmino.
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Don’t get me wrong, Salah has been THE man this season, if it wasn’t for his goals then Liverpool might not have got into the top four let alone a Champions League final. The guy is unbelievable, world-class, the best in the world on current form.
But without Bobby Firmino there is no Mo Salah. Well, there would be a Mo Salah, but there most certainly wouldn’t be as many goals or personal accolades for the Egyptian King. Bobby is integral, the heartbeat of the team, the man who makes it all tick!
At the start of the season, so many people questioned Liverpool’s potential going into the season. Everyone took pop shots at our defence and said it wasn’t strong enough, but a lot people also claimed that we hadn’t got anyone who was going to score 20/30 goals a season. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t think Bobby was the finisher we needed either, but 53 games later I can proudly sit here and say how wrong I was.
The brilliant Brazilian has now scored an impressive 27 goals in all competitions, not bad for someone who doesn’t score enough goals, ey? But let’s not got caught up in his goalscoring talents as he’s far more than a goalscorer, he’s also a fantastic playmaker. The boy boasts an exceptional assist record for someone who plays up top, 17 assists in all competitions – a number which is only four less than the so-called God of assists that is Kevin De Bruyne.
But let’s not talk about that as it doesn’t fit the media’s agenda now, does it!?
Anyway, back to Bobby!
On the ball, there is so much more to him than passing and being able to finish. His touch is exceptional, his strength is incredible, his decision making is always perfect and the holdup play is something you’d expect from a target-man. He just links-up the play unbelievably well.
I can almost guarantee that if you re-watch Liverpool’s counter-attacks that he will be in 90% of them. Almost every time he will be the one to hold it up and allow others to join the attack before playing the ball off to one of the oncoming runners.
He doesn’t just contribute to goals. His energy levels, his tracking back and his pressing from the front buys the lads behind him a little bit of time and allows them to get back into shape after losing the ball. Not only does it buy the rest of the boys time, but his tireless work sets the tone for the rest of the team. When Firmino is up for it, they’re all up for it!
He doesn’t just run players down though, he is proficient and meaningful with his defensive duties. This season he has attempted 89 tackles and was successful on 55 of those occasions, a number which proves he has made more tackles in one season than Chris Smalling, Laurent Koscielny, Paul Pogba, Moussa Dembele & Antonio Rudiger.
He’s also attempted more than Eric Dier, Nicolas Otamendi & Jan Vertonghen. The list goes on, but I think you get the point! He’s relentless in his efforts, works tirelessly for the rest of the side and doesn’t just run around for no reason.
His off the ball work doesn’t stop there, though. The off-the-ball runs and his ability to time them perfectly is quite possibly one his best attributes. When he makes a run, he isn’t just doing it for the fun of it, each run has a reason behind it, every single one is so clever.
He’ll drop deep to drag a defender out and create space for oncoming runners, he’ll run on in behind to allow someone a little bit of time on the ball or to just simply probe and threaten the backline.
He is that good that even the legend that is Thierry Henry has described the Samba man as the “most complete striker in the league.”
The legendary striker didn’t stop there, he then went on to say: “I’m not talking about the best finisher or the best work rate. I’m talking all round. The most complete in the league.”
Thierry also backs up what I’ve said in this article. He commented on how his runs make the room for Salah, saying: “the way he makes the two central defenders move to allow Mo Salah to make those runs.”
Let me just point out that this isn’t the first time Thierry has gushed over the striker either. He also commented on his brilliance back in February. Other legends of the game have also commented on him in recent weeks, one of these being ex-Liverpool player Jamie Carragher, who admitted that Firmino was not only his favourite player,but the Reds most important player too!
The stats and the pundits’ opinions don’t lie, Firmino is the most underrated player in the Premier League but also Liverpool’s most important player. He’s like a target man, a number 9, a creative midfielder, a defensive midfielder and a centre-back all rolled into one. He’s Jürgen’s perfect player and he’s simply magnificent!
Oh, he’s also a mad bastard that loves the club, how could anyone dislike him!?