Roberto Firmino wasn’t alway’s the player he is today. It’s easy to forget during the early struggles the Brazilian underwent after the striker was signed during the last few months of Brendan Rodgers’ Anfield tenure.
The current Leicester City manager clashed with staff over the club’s transfer policy and the decision of Michael Edwards to sign Firmino created the initial a source of tension.
Rodgers pushed for the signing of Christian Benteke instead, with the Reds ultimately opting to sign both players.
And following an interview with Bleacher Report, a former Hoffenheim sporting director has revealed the minor details that showcase how Firmino was scouted, signed and moulded into the vital cog the striker has become in Jurgen Klopp’s world-conquering squad.
Firmino, 28, joined Hoffenheim for £3.35m [BBC Sport] in December 2010 after scoring 12 goals in 56 games for the Bundesliga outfit.
He said: “I went over to Brazil twice that year, but it wasn’t easy to get the right impression on Firmino during a game because he didn’t actually play regularly.
“With the World Cup being held that season, they had a break in the summer, and you know how tight the national calendar is over there, which roughly means that they play Saturday, then Wednesday and then Saturday again.
“In between, they need to travel, so it was very hard even to follow him in tr989aining, but we managed to get into the stadium facilities as tourists to watch him working.
“There was one specific session where I said, ‘OK, this was the right type of player.’ He’s bringing along the right mentality, he’s eager to learn, he works hard – what we saw in training was far better than in game. That was the reason why we took that decision. We had also sent a scout over, but his report was negative on him.”
“You should have seen the data that we got on him when he was coming for the first time [to Hoffenheim]. In Germany, we usually do these endurance tests, blood ones, which are pretty accurate, you know, and he had the worst numbers I have ever seen in professional football,” Tanner recalls.
“I would say to emphasise that he was even worse than my grandma. You can’t imagine. They were so low that you couldn’t even believe that he was ever able to play professional football.”
What RTK has to say
Firmino’s importance to Liverpool has become unquantifiable since Klopp transformed the former winger into a versatile No.9.
Whether it is skill, flamboyance, determination, grit, desire or ability, the Brazilian has all in abundance.
Even in the rarity where Liverpool ave their backs to the wall, Firmino has the ability to take charge of the attack and win matches in the vital moments.
Just look at his goal against Wolves. Arguably the best team Liverpool have come up against in the league this season, and even when the chips were down the Reds’ irreplaceable Brazilian dug out a stunning winning-goal.
How many players can do that? Liverpool have such a fantastic gameplan with their full-backs and one that doesn’t ask Firmino to run games. He’s still an integral part of the team, even if it’s a slightly more traditional centre-forward role.
The fact that he can then effectively take over the responsibility and become the main attacking force is on a different scale. His dual-role as number 9 and number 10 makes £29m [BBC Sport] seem like small change following such an incredible rise to the pinnacle of football.
Firmino has become the most indispensable member of the world’s most feared attacking trident.