Jurgen Klopp has urged Liverpool fans not to judge players too soon after seeing Roberto Firmino flourish at Anfield.
The £29million recruit from Hoffenheim struggled to assert himself in the first team at the start of the season and took 14 games to score his first goal – in the 4-1 win against Man City.
The 24-year-old, who was sidelined with a back problem when Klopp arrived in October, was written off by some onlookers but he worked his way into the side and Sunday’s strike against Watford was his 11th goal of the campaign in all 47 games in all competitions.
The Brazil-born Firmino has been involved in more Premier League goals this season than any other Liverpool player with 10 goals and seven assists.
“It wasn’t a surprise to me when I heard people questioning him. That’s how it is in Germany too,” Klopp told the Liverpool Echo.
“You don’t watch too much German football. You get a player from Hoffenheim in Germany and everyone thought: ‘oh, a nice signing Liverpool’.
“But not many people here knew him because he wasn’t from Bayern, he wasn’t from Dortmund.
“I knew about Roberto. When I heard that Liverpool had signed him I thought: ‘how have they done this?’
That skill by Firmino last night. Pretty sure Soldado will never forget it haha pic.twitter.com/Cl2Taxw8hz
— LFCMostar (@LFCMostar) May 6, 2016
“Now with Roberto you can see the confidence in his work. All the players are more confident than before because they’ve had more time working together.
“We’ve had an intense time but it’s been a good time together. We know a lot more about each other.
“Watford was the team’s 60th game of the season – that’s unbelievable. For me, it’s only been 49.
“What we can learn from Roberto’s situation going forward when it comes to next season’s signings is wait to make judgements. Don’t be too quick to judge players.”