Phil Thompson looks past Salah and Van Dijk in naming Liverpool’s ‘best player’ of Klopp era

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Phil Thompson has named the man who he believes was Liverpool’s ‘best player’ throughout Jurgen Klopp’s reign at Anfield – and it’s not Mo Salah or Virgil van Dijk.

The former Reds captain was asked by Jeff Stelling on the Football’s Greatest Podcast to name his top five LFC players of all time, and while the 70-year-old didn’t pick anyone from the modern era among that quintet, he singled out one man who he found it tough to omit.

Thompson said: “Get this – with Virgil van Dijk and the great centre-backs, Bobby Firmino was my best player throughout this time. He was so exciting, twinkle-toes. He was the Ian Rush of that trio of Bobby, Mo and Sadio [Mane].

“Bobby was wonderful, but would he be in this list? Probably no, and that sounds awful from a player who was my favourite being a fan. I didn’t want him to leave because he brought some great memories.”

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It’s a testament to how gifted a footballer Firmino was at Liverpool that, even during one of the most celebrated periods in the club’s history, he’s been held up by Thompson as our ‘best player’ of modern times.

For the Brazilian to get the nod ahead of Salah, Mane, Van Dijk, Alisson Becker and Trent Alexander-Arnold reflects the massive contribution that he made to the team in his eight years at Anfield prior to moving on last summer, when he left upon the expiry of his contract.

Capable of scoring some jaw-dropping goals (including some of the no-look variety) and working tirelessly as part of our much-celebrated front three, the 32-year-old was a genuine fan favourite on Merseyside, and his departure from the club in 2023 was a poignant one for supporters and the teammates that he left behind.

Firmino’s move to Al-Ahli in Saudi Arabia hasn’t been plain sailing – he went six months without a goal before scoring three times over his last two games (Transfermarkt) – but the talents that he exhibited at Liverpool will ensure that his name is recalled in reverential tones around these parts for years to come.

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  1. Bobby redefined what it is to be a CF, and how much they can contribute. Great vision and personality on the ball and selfless off it. Many players want to emulate him and show us how they interpret his work, none come close as yet. A transformative player who is missed

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