How has Liverpool's Roberto Firmino improved under Jurgen Klopp?
As Jurgen Klopp celebrates his first anniversary in charge at Anfield, there are few players that he has transformed more than Roberto Firmino. By this stage last season, he had played 275 minutes across six Premier League and one EFL Cup game. This season, he has played 677 minutes across six Premier League and two EFL Cup games, missing just one game through injury, with four goals and three assists to his name.
Firmino failed to play a full 90 minutes even once under Brendan Rodgers before the Northern Irish manager was sacked by the Reds and also failed to assist or score in that time, but has been a revelation under Klopp and become a key man in this campaign.
The Brazilian was largely misused by his first manager at the club, with speculation suggesting that signing the then 24-year-old from Hoffenheim was a move by the transfer committee rather than by the former Swansea boss. In five of his seven appearances under Rodgers, Firmino was played on the right wing, something he has done just once this season in an EFL Cup tie against Derby County.
Shafted out wide, Firmino struggled to adapt to his added defensive responsibilities and found it harder to influence the attacking side of his team’s play as he had at Hoffenheim and with Brazil in a central role.
This season, that is exactly where Klopp has put him. In a central role, Firmino has only played wide twice, once against Derby, and once on the left side of attack in Philippe Coutinho’s absence against Leicester. However, even on those occasions, the fluid attacking trio allowed Firmino to drift central, unlike the more rigid formation of Rodgers a year ago.
With four goals and three assists compared to nothing in either category under Rodgers, it has clearly been effective as Klopp has instilled a newfound belief in the forward and seen him become increasingly daring with his tricks and skills which have left Premier League defences bamboozled on numerous occasions already this term.
If Firmino can maintain his current run of form, he will continue to grow in importance for Klopp as his side appear to launch what could become a title challenge, and at worse will be a push for the top four.
With Sadio Mane and Phillipe Coutinho either side of him, Firmino has excelled this campaign, but the danger will be that he may have to sacrifice his preferred central role should Daniel Sturridge or the promising Divock Origi grow impatient with their lack of first team football. It may give Klopp a headache, but it’s certainly a good one to have after Firmino looked like he could be a transfer flop under Rodgers.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Anfield BR.
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