Talking about three of Liverpool’s most feared forwards, Roberto Firmino’s name seems to be often alienated. Though all the three players have almost the same quality, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane became the players who often get the center of attention.
Playing from both sides, both Salah and Mane moved quickly and became the main source of goals for Liverpool. In the 2018/19 season, they shared the Premier League Golden Boot with Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with 22 goals.
It’s unfair if the praises are only pouring to Mane and Salah because on the other hand there is the role of Roberto Firmino that makes Mane and Salah can make a lot of goals. Liverpool legend Ian Rush even acknowledged this.
“Everyone knows how unbelievably False, but if you see one Liverpool player who is more than that, Roberto Firmino is the one. With what has been shown so far, he reminds me of myself,” said Rush (Quoted from the Express page)
At Liverpool, Firmino is not a pure striker like Lewandowski at Bayern Munich or Benzema at Real Madrid whose main task is to make goals. But Firmino is more likely to play the role of False Nine or fake number nine.
The player with the role of false nine seems to play as a central striker, but he isn’t. The center forward or number nine is at the front, looking for space, and making a final settlement. Real nine will usually be the final target of various passes to be converted into goals.
Whereas False Nine will more often move in the undesired direction than a spearhead moves in search of space and opportunities to score goals. That means scoring goals is not Firmino’s main task at Liverpool.
Roberto Firmino attracted the attention of Liverpool thanks to his neat performance with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim. At the German club, Firmino plays as a hole attacker or attacking midfielder. He was then recruited by Liverpool in the summer of 2015 when the Reds were still coached by Brendan Rodgers.
The arrival of Juergen Klopp changed his position. Firmino, in the tactics adopted by Klopp, became the central attacker. No one would imagine that he would become an important part of Jurgen Klopp’s game system.
Since entering the inaugural full season with Liverpool in 2016/17, Juergen Klopp has often played 4-3-3 formations. In this formation, Firmino was asked to play the role of false nine. Firmino soon found himself playing as a center forward and was very impressive in his first season at Anfield.
Firmino is actively pressing and constantly moving. Thanks to his understanding of tactics and ball skills, he can think and act quickly and precisely. He often comes down to pick up the ball and makes positional sacrifices to complement his attack partners, Salah and Mane, who certainly get the benefit from these movements.
But, that role makes Firmino appear sharper. In fact, not only in terms of the number of goals, but the number of assists owned by this Brazilian national team player is also quite a lot. Just last season, Firmino created 16 goals and 7 assists in all competitions.
Although Salah has made headlines, Firmino has won the hearts of Liverpool fans for his impressive performances.
Being a center forward is only a matter of position in the lineup. What makes Firmino a very productive player in that position is his nature and attitude so that he becomes the maximum center forward in Klopp’s tactics. Scoring goals and assists are only the final results. It is his way of playing that makes Firmino so productive.
Firmino’s ability to influence the game in many ways is what makes him one of the best strikers in Europe. If he doesn’t create opportunities for his teammates, that means he isn’t able to carry out the task well.
Jurgen Klopp made no secret that he wanted Firmino to extend his contract and the club is believed to have opened negotiations to do so. Klopp and Firmino are a very close pair. Klopp’s tactics and Firmino’s style of play complement each other perfectly.
“Klopp and I are very close. Klopp is a very good coach, an extraordinary person, very passionate about the field. When he encourages, it’s a sign that I do his wish. That motivates me to go forward, to do the things he asks for,” Firmino said.
Firmino has now determined himself as one of Liverpool’s most important players and has taken on an extraordinary false nine role. At the age of 27, there are certainly many things that may come from this talented Brazilian player. Moreover, many parties also say that Firmino is a complete modern striker.
Although, at the end of the season Salah or Mane tend to be more productive than Firmino, without the role of Firmino they will find it difficult to score many goals even though Salah and Mane have the quality of making high goals. With Liverpool, until now Firmino has scored 67 goals and made 49 assists from 195 appearances in all competitions.