Jurgen Klopp has urged Liverpool to act fast to tie Roberto Firmino down to a new contract.
The Brazilian is enjoying his best ever season for Liverpool after making himself the club’s undisputed frontline striker, despite still being considered a somewhat unconventional pick to start up front.
However, with Philippe Coutinho leaving for Barcelona in a £142million deal in January, Firmino has established himself, alongside Mohamed Salah, as arguably the Reds’ most important player.
The 26-year-old has scored 13 goals and added six assists to lead free-flowing Liverpool up to third in the table and only two points adrift of second-placed Manchester United.
And Klopp is eager to ensure his star man is rewarded with a new deal sooner rather than later.
“It is very important for both sides. I think everything we are doing, the way we play, the way we give him the opportunity constantly to play – he deserves that,” Klopp said.
“He deserves that because his work-rate is outstanding but it helped him a lot to step up. He became a different player here.
“Other teams can say, ‘Hmmm, he’s really good,’ but it is not sure they will play the same way and use him as a nine or a 10 or they’ll use him out on the wings.
“It is important to keep these players who are at a good age and when there is still space for improvement. There is no doubt we want to do that. You can imagine we try to do that. But they all have contracts. It’s not that their contracts are ending in the summer.”
Klopp reckons Coutinho’s departure has worked in Liverpool’s favour and added: “Roberto was always a dominant player, but there are a few decisive differences in the last few games. Maybe the biggest compliment is that nobody thought in the last few games: ‘With Phil it would have been different’,” he said.
“I really don’t want to throw dirt after Phil because there is no need and everything is fine, but it’s just normal (Firmino is more important). The team needed to step up without him. It is another way to play football.
“I always hoped it would not be an issue.”
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