Liverpool have been highly-inconsistent this season and the arrival of the charismatic Jurgen Klopp has done very little to curtail that inconsistency. Under Klopp it has been two steps forward and one step back.
When Liverpool have played well though in recent months Brazilian international Roberto Firmino has been a key player for the Reds.
That was a case again in the Reds 2-0 victory over bitter-rivals Manchester United in the first leg of their Europa League last-16.
The Brazilian once again got on the scoresheet and is becoming an increasingly influential player in the Liverpool team under Klopp.
Firmino was lauded from his days in the Bundesliga
Jurgen Klopp is a confirmed fan of the former-Hoffenheim star and even stated his admiration for Firmino just prior to his arrival as Reds boss. It is no surprise really that Firmino had impressed Klopp, as he dazzled in Hoffenheim team that have been largely average for much of their existence in the German top-flight.
Having watched Firmino a few times in the Bundesliga for Hoffenheim I was notably impressed as well, even writing at the start of the campaign that he had the potential to be one of the signings of the summer.
Ability now shining through
Firmino’s Liverpool career was a slow burner under previous boss Brendan Rodgers, but since Klopp’s arrival there has been a noticeable improvement in the Brazilian’s form. He has football intelligence and is willing to put in work as well, which are two of the qualities that Klopp seems to appreciate the most in his players.
Like many foreign footballers it has maybe taken Firmino a little time to adapt to life in England. However, his time in Germany has probably prepared him for life in a European country more than if he had arrived straight from his homeland.
He now seems to have got his head round the English game and his ability is now shining through on the pitch. Firmino has now scored eight goals in the English top-flight, as well as producing eight assists. Not a bad return so far for a debutant in any top league.
His versatility is a useful attribute. Until recent games Firmino had been playing as the focal point of the Reds attack in the false number nine role.
Daniel Sturridge’s recovery from injury and return to the lone striker role is likely to lead to Firmino playing in a less advanced position, which is not necessarily the worse thing in the world. He can find space and have an influence on the Reds attack playing in a less advanced role.
Already he is showing an understanding with fellow Brazilian Philippe Coutinho and injury-prone striker Sturridge in the few games they have played together for the Reds.
Liverpool showing signs of improvement under Klopp
Liverpool are now showing signs of moving in the right direction under Jurgen Klopp. Certain performances have seen how the German wants his team to play. It is just about finding those sorts of performances on a consistent basis to move the team forward.
The Reds are odds of 7/1 to finish in the Premier League top four this season, but with major competition a Champions League spot looks unlikely in the current campaign.
Next season will be a completely different story though. Klopp will bring in his players to compliment the ones he feels are good enough to remain at Anfield this summer. No doubt Firmino will still be on Merseyside come the beginning of next season.
The 24-year-old has everything needed to be a highly successful player in the Premier League. He is the sort player that will thrive in a Klopp team. The German boss bases his game on the high-press and Firmino is willing to put the work in to do just that.
Firmino, like his team, needs to keep up his level of consistency next season to help his team challenge for a place in the top four of the Premier League. The Brazilian has already showed his quality this season, despite the team’s inconsistency and it being his debut campaign in English football.
Next season when Firmino and Jurgen Klopp have settled properly into life in English football we may see the best of both, as the two seem to make the ideal partnership.
Should Roberto Firmino’s debut season at Liverpool be considered a success?