There is a narrative around Bobby Firmino, mainly from rival fans, that he isn’t a top-class player due to his low goal return. Yes, he is a no.9. But no, he isn’t a traditional goalscorer. Why is that so hard for some fans to get their heads around? What he brings to the team is unrivalled pressing from the front, a key cog to our system, silky link-up play that underpins the goal records of both Sadio Mane and Mo Salah, and defensive support for the midfield three. The simple point is, when he plays, we play better. While others are perhaps more individually talented, sitting in the Ronaldo-esque camp, his team ethos makes him totally unique. Name another ‘striker’ like him?
Clearly, as well, his teammates adore him. Here are some of the things his current and ex players have said about him.
Van Dijk was asked who is his greatest ever teammate: “I’m going to be a little bit biased and say one of my [current] team-mates: I would say Roberto Firmino.”
Jordan Henderson: “Some of the stuff he does is madness really.”
Trent Alexander Arnold: “I’m running out of words to describe him, an unbelievable player. I’ve said it before he’s priceless to us. For us, he’s the best player we could have. He’s the one that makes everything tick, the glue that holds everything together. He’s world-class.”
Andrew Robertson: “His work rate, his technique, his goals and his all-round play, I don’t think there’s anyone like him. People will say there are better strikers, but for me what he does is so important to our team. We’d be lost without him. He’s world-class. He does everything.”
Steven Gerrard: “I would have loved to have played with him for a couple of years. He’s a very intelligent footballer. He’s on that same wavelength – he sees things. There are players and there are levels and he’s absolutely top level.”
Ian Rush: “People always talk about Mane & Salah but Firmino has also popped up with the goals/assists despite not looking like a typical striker. He is a work-horse & he has so much so skill but because he works his socks off I don’t think people realise how skilful he is.”
Graeme Souness: “I love watching Roberto Firmino play. A couple of years ago, I likened him to Kenny Dalglish. He’s like a big cat walking through the jungle waiting for an opportunity to do damage. His radar is on all the time and he’s got a great football brain.”
Phil Thompson: “Firmino, I think, to most Liverpool fans, is the underrated one of the three, He is such a good footballer. When you talk about the high press, what people don’t realise is Firmino starts it. He is like Ian Rush.”
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: “It becomes a little bit normal when you play with that guy. That’s the way he plays and he does those magnificent things all the time. I love him, I absolutely love him such a joy to play with and to feed off. He’s always looking for others, he works for the team.”
Ian Wright: “His consistency & the way he plays that No 9 role & drops in, he’ll pop up on the right/left, I just think he is fantastic. What he does is so important to what Liverpool do. When he’s not playing, it’s so noticeable. No-one else can do what he does.”
Kaka: “Firmino & Suarez are the best forwards in the world right now. “You see Firmino playing the way he’s playing, he understands his place on the field & changes his position. He’s not a striker that stays in the box all the time, he gets the ball and creates the plays.”
Gary Neville: “Any manager in the world would love to have Firmino as their centre-forward, I think he’s absolutely incredible. He’s selfless, brilliant, scores goals, sets things up, they can link off him, makes all the right runs, an outstanding player.”
Peter Crouch: “Firmino was nominated for the Ballon d’Or this week and he deserves to be in that category. I recently heard a quote that I loved: ‘If you watch the game you don’t see Firmino. If you watch Firmino you see the whole game.’ Poetry. He is a genius.”