Michael Owen believes the jury is still out on Roberto Firmino and questions whether the Liverpool forward has the “angry streak” to be a success.
Firmino was one of Liverpool’s marquee signings in the summer having moved to Anfield in a £29million transfer from Bundesliga outfit Hoffenheim.
The Brazilian started the campaign slowly but has shown signs of improvement in recent weeks, having been used in a number of different roles by both Brendan Rodgers and Jurgen Klopp.
And with the returns of Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho and Divock Origi, former Reds striker Owen says Firmino needs to become more consistent if he is to become a star on Merseyside.
“I’m split on him. I thought he did great against Manchester City and Chelsea away earlier in the season, but for a player with that much quality I just want to see that kind of performance on a more regular basis,” Owen said on BT Sport.
“At the moment it’s maybe one good performance in five or six. He gives the ball away too much, and I don’t see that real angry streak in his game.
“Listen, if I gave the ball away in a game then for 10 minutes it would be frying my brain. The ball is precious, and I don’t see that in Firmino’s game at the moment. He gives the ball away and it’s almost like ‘oh well, that’s the norm’.
“He’s done well lately. But to be a Liverpool player you have to do it every week. You can have one bad game in five, but at the moment he’s more one good game in five. He’s got a lot of quality, but we need to see it more regularly.”
After a busy summer transfer window under former manager Rodgers, who spent over £80million on new recruits, Liverpool failed to make any significant signings in January, despite their underwhelming league form.
On Monday it was announced Schalke defender Joel Matip will move to Anfield on a free transfer at the end of the season, and Owen suggests this is a sign of things to come.
“Not many of the big boys spent money in January, did they?” he added.
“Of course you always think with a new manager coming in that they will probably get one or two players in quickly. But I’d say the summer will be the main time for Liverpool in terms of signings. It’s a big one.
“Look, Liverpool aren’t going to win the league this season, so in that sense there was no need to make signings in January so we could have a big push.
“Whether we finish 10th or eighth, seventh, whatever, it doesn’t really matter. It’s about the cup competitions and building for the future. It’s about Klopp understanding the club totally, what he’s got at his disposal and where he needs to strengthen.
“I’m pleased that he didn’t rush in to the market right away. I think he needed the time between his appointment and the end of the season to truly assess what he’s got, and then make the required changes.”