Liverpool’s array of world-class players is spine-tingling when you assess what each member of Jurgen Klopp’s carefully crafted Premier League-winning squad brings to the table.
From defence to attack, the Reds are littered with stars who are among the best in the world in their respected positions.
For one player, in particular, it is hard to make such comparison as what he offers Liverpool is so unique that it questions whether there is another footballer across the continent who has adopted a similar playing style.
We are talking, of course, about Roberto Firmino.
The Brazilian’s productivity in front of goal doesn’t necessarily befit that of a team that has claimed both the Premier League and Champions League over the past year, yet he is still Liverpool’s most indispensable member in terms of what he brings to the forward line.
It’s fair to assume that without Firmino, Klopp’s current tactical system would potentially look a lot different as it was Liverpool’s No.9 (then No.11) who originally defined the German manager’s systematic approach back in 2015.
His influence on the team is enormous regarding his durability as Firmino, who is set to begin his sixth season with the club, currently averages 48 appearances since his arrival from Hoffenheim in 2015.
It’s no surprise that Firmino has been utilised more than any player during Klopp’s tenure as Liverpool manager.
Perhaps what best summarised the 28-year-old’s importance to the manager’s acute tactical machine that was constructed to embody and bring the best out of Firmino is the drop-off in performance levels when he isn’t in the starting XI.
Last season, there were several games in which Firmino’s direct involvement completely altered and improved Liverpool’s performance levels.
Take Chelsea (Super Cup), Newcastle United (PL) and Monterrey (Club World Cup) as direct examples whereby lacklustre perofmance levels were instantly swung in Liverpool’s favour following the immediate arrival of Firmino.
Also Liverpool’s inability to find a direct replacement also serves notion to Firmino’s value to the team.
There is a worry, however, that the upcoming 2020/21 camapaign which is expected to be the most gruelling and energy sapping season to date will give Klopp’s squad of ‘mentality monsters’ the most physically testing challenge to date.
With the congested schedule in mind, even Firmino will have to be rotated on occasion to minimise risk of injury as Liverpool cannot risk losing one of their key players for a sustained period during a club campaign which is expected to last just eight months.
Do we have cover?
This questions whether Liverpool have a direct solution to compensate or whether Firmino’s absence is just an unsolvable concept altogether.
There have been suggestions that Takumi Minamino could be a long-term succession if given time to learn Firmino’s key qualities and morph into the mould of player that befits Klopp’s attacking system.
Becoming the key central attacking focal point in the team is by no means an easy feat, and it could be argued that Minamino is best utilised serving behind Liverpool’s front-three potentially in a 4-2-3-1 as opposed to the main attacking figure operating down the middle.
Divock Origi has found out the hard way that goals are not enough to secure your position in the central role of the forward trident as the Belgian has extenuisly been deployed on the left-wing rather than his preferred central position.
Liverpool have been able to amount 196 points over the last two seasons yet Firmino has been able to contribute just 21 goals during 72 appearances in that period.
What is most striking about that statistic ss Firmino has completely changed the narrative regarding goals being the ultimate end game of football.
If Firmino – who signed for a £29m fee [BBC] in 2015 – were held on a similar account to that of a normal day his statistical output could see him in risk of the sack. Luckily, in Klopp’s transformative style of play, Firmino’s differences have made him one of the great genius’ of modern football.
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