Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk has claimed new signing Cody Gakpo is learning lots behind the scenes from Roberto Firmino.
With the 23-year-old now a regular up top for Jurgen Klopp’s side, 31-year-old Firmino has decided to leave the club at the end of the season.
After eight incredible years, the Brazilian will depart Anfield having made over 350 appearances for the Reds.
Speaking of the number nine’s exit with the Liverpool Echo, Van Dijk has weighed in on Firmino’s importance over the rest of the squad.
“I think that position of a false 9 is Bobby Firmino’s,” Van Dijk said. “He is the one that showed over the years how difficult it is for any other player to perform it but also for others to defend that.
“As a player, you can’t deny how important he is for the success that we had; for Mo (Salah), for Sadio (Mane) in the past but also for the players that still are here, for example, in Cody (Gakpo) to learn from him each and every day.
“But as a human being as well, he’s a great guy and I wish him obviously all the best after the summer. But for now we still have targets to reach and he knows that and he wants to make sure that we fulfil that as well.
“He’s been so influential for this football club and he should definitely be remembered as one of the legends.”
Van Dijk full of praise for Firmino
Playing under Klopp, Firmino transformed the false-nine position.
He was the cog in Liverpool’s side who allowed everyone else to tick around him.
Both Mane and Salah would not have anywhere near the number of goals as they do if it weren’t for the Brazilian’s incredible football IQ.
Therefore, his departure will come as a huge loss to the entire club.
However, not all hope is lost, as the Reds have drafted Gakpo in from PSV Eindhoven.
The Dutchman is already excelling in Klopp’s formation, and according to Van Dijk, he is being tutored by Firmino about the ins and outs of the false-nine role.
Having bagged twice against Manchester United yesterday, the 23-year-old is already showing signs of an exceptional career at Anfield.