Liverpool star Sadio Mane has waxed lyrical about Reds teammate Roberto Firmino, saying the Brazilian “deserves more credit” than him or Mohamed Salah.
Firmino, who joined Liverpool from Hoffenheim in 2015 for a reported £29million fee, was a key player for the Reds in their rise from an underachieving, largely underwhelming outfit to a serial trophy winner.
The Brazilian is often the spearhead of Liverpool’s gegenpress, his movement and off-the-ball work helping to bring the best out of Mane and Salah.
Jurgen Klopp’s charges have struggled this season amid key players being ruled out and others being out of form, and Firmino has been criticised by some for his lack of goals – just one since Christmas.
However, Mane – whose own goal tally of 11 from 32 appearances is five short at the same stage last season – believes he and Mohamed Salah would get fewer chances without the hard-working 29-year-old.
“But it is part of football, (people) always seeing the goals scored. But without Bobby, I don’t see me and Mo score as many goals as we have, to be honest.
“He makes everything easier for us. Brazil are just lucky to have Firmino. I have always said to Bobby: ‘You will have to change your nationality and come to Senegal’.
“For me, that would be a dream. I just love him. I think he is my favourite teammate.”
Given Firmino’s numbers don’t quite stick out in the same way as those of Salah and Mane, there’ll be neutrals criticising him.
However, his style of play is a huge part of what’s helped Liverpool go all the way to the top – the Champions League in 2019, the Premier League in 2020.
The likes of Mauricio Pochettino, Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger, Gary Neville, Kaka and Thierry Henry have all sung Firmino’s praises in the past.
Even though he might not be at his best right now, neither are plenty of other Liverpool players – but they’ll be back.