Former Liverpool player Stephen Warnock believes second-half substitute Takumi Minamino out-performed Bobby Firmino in last night’s 1-0 win over Ajax.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, the former defender said the Japan international made a difference. “You can certainly see the difference in Minamino upfront,” he said.
“With the way he is holding the ball up and is linking up play. He has done better than Firmino did in the first half. Everything good that has happened so far in this second half has been in and around his hold up play and link-up play.
“It has allowed the midfield to press higher. It has then allowed the defence to come up 5 or 10 yards to stop that ball from coming over the top.
“What it has done is put Ajax players under pressure and it doesn’t allow a simple ball to feet or a ball over the top. Every pass they now make is under pressure.”
While Firmino’s role in Jurgen Klopp’s team often goes underappreciated, Warnock has a point in saying Taki showed up the Brazilian.
Goal-scoring form aside, the Japan international seemingly created more space for his team-mates than what Bobby managed in the hour he was on the pitch.
That isn’t to say Firmino didn’t play well – he actually had a good game, and remains one of the most important cogs in Liverpool’s team.
With the form of Minamino only climbing higher and higher since the end of last season, it begs the question: when will Taki get his chance to start as a false-nine?
He’s already played for us a few times up top, but only when there’s been rotation elsewhere, it’d be nice to see how he gets with the typical starting team, playing the bulk of a game.