Jurgen Klopp has taken time to wax lyrical about Roberto Firmino, as he does every time he’s asked about Liverpool’s Brazilian.
The 26-year-old has scored 19 goals in all competitions this season, already his best return since signing for the club in 2015.
With Coutinho exited, his importance to our frontline has become even bigger, with Klopp picking Firmino basically every match.
The manager particularly loves the South American’s selflessness in the final third.
On countless occasion, Bobby gives the ball to a better placed team-mate rather than go himself – not a trait often associated with strikers.
“Roberto’s desire to score is big but to be honest he doesn’t really give a s*** over whether he passes the ball or scores himself, it makes no difference, and that’s rare, you cannot tell somebody that,” Klopp told the Echo.
“As a manager you say ‘if you score or you make the goal or you prepared it or you made the cross for me it’s no problem, no difference’, but for players of course it’s a difference.
“Being the kind of character I am, a player winning a challenge or a counter press is like scoring in a specific moment.
“That (the ‘false’ number nine tag) is only because you have to give specific things certain names so actually I don’t care.
“If you see Harry Kane playing, he is all over the pitch, he is getting the ball deep.
“Of all the strikers we have in England, they are the most similar – they’re everywhere.
“Harry is more coming from the 9 and a little bit on the 10 while Roberto is coming from the 10 and doing a bit more but is also a 9, he’s just so important for us.
“You realise it the day after the game when you look at the figures and see ‘wow, what a number of high sprints and high distance runs’.
“When you look at him in training the next day it’s all good, he walks normal. On the second day of recovery he looks fresh again.
“That makes him so special, he’s always ready. That makes him an interesting package as a football player because he’s not fixed on a position.”
Coutinho was Liverpool’s most talented player, but we’d suggest Firmino was and is our most important.
He sets the tone for our attack and acts as a terrific focal point from which Mo Salah and Sadio Mane can equally create.
It’s essential that he stays fit, with Dom Solanke and Danny Ings not on his level right now.