Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has insisted that his Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino does not need to score more goals, but that his unselfish and all-round game is more important for the team.
Firmino, who joined the Reds in a £29m deal from Hoffenheim in 2015, was Liverpool’s third-highest goalscorer last season across all competitions, netting 12 times in 41 appearances. He ranked joint-highest for combined tallies of goals and assists, however, matching Philippe Coutinho’s total of 23.
However, it is not his productivity in the final third that marks him out for manager Jurgen Klopp, who hailed his impact in other areas, calling him “the best player without scoring”.
Speaking to Goal, the German appeared to be baffled at fans’ desires for a higher goal return from their new number 9 (having given new arrival Mohamed Salah his old number 11 shirt), saying:
“With Roberto Firmino, people say he does not score enough. What?!
“He is the best player without scoring with how well he reads the game for the benefit of others. Outstanding!
“But then what if he starts thinking ‘oh, I need more goals’ and starts shooting from all over the place when usually, he would play a clever ball and make a run to open up the space?
“There needs to be one plan, one voice, one belief. It will not always be perfect, because we are not perfect, but it is our way.”
Despite not being a traditional number 9, Firmino is Klopp’s first-choice up front, despite competition from four more natural strikers in the form of Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi, Danny Ings, and new signing Dominic Solanke.
Firmino’s goal tally last season was significantly inferior to their rivals’ first-choice strikers, such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romelu Lukaku. However, Liverpool outscored both clubs in the Premier League, suggesting that they are able to share the goalscoring responsibility throughout the side, with goals coming from all over the pitch.
The Brazilian is an archetypal Klopp player, and the Liverpool boss is clearly happy with his player’s contribution just as it is.