Roberto Firmino is the conductor of Liverpool’s orchestra, and his team-mates believe he’s a maestro.
That is the message from manager Jurgen Klopp, who explained that the outpouring of joy from the Reds players, when the Brazilian scored at the weekend, was a show of anger from them at the criticism the striker has received.
Firmino has scored only three league goals at Anfield in 20 months, and his two goals this season are in stark contrast to his rival for a place, Diogo Jota, who has eight goals in just 12 appearances.
But Klopp says there is so much more to the Samba star, than the bare statistics. “Scoring was always important for Bobby. But Bobby is a complete footballer,” he explained.
“A football team is like an orchestra, you have different people for different instruments. And some of them are louder than others, but they are all important for the rhythm.
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“Bobby plays like 12 instruments in our orchestra! He’s very important for our rhythm. We can play well without him as well, but I certainly want him on the pitch and if you look at the numbers, I like it a lot having him on the pitch. Really awesome.”
Jota’s output this season has been remarkable for his new club. He is the first player in Liverpool history to have scored in each of his first four league appearances at Anfield, and he has a shot conversion rate of almost 30 per cent.
Firmino has had fewer shots and fewer shots on target, despite playing more games, while Jota has a far more impressive conversion rate for big chances. But Klopp points to the admiration of his team-mates as evidence of Firmino’s importance to the team.
The manager saw the emotion of the team when he scored against Leicester and said it was a fierce response to the criticism the striker has received.
Klopp said: “This goal was very important, and what I loved most was the reaction of the boys. You saw the celebration, it was really emotional.
“Obviously the players read newspapers, and they saw there was some criticism, so they were really happy for him to score.”
James Milner summed up the feelings of the players, when he spoke after the defeat of Leicester, and he admitted that he would have been far more angry than the implacable Brazilian.
“I just said (after the game) to him I think I’d have been angrier than him. We are so delighted he got his goal, thoroughly deserved, I thought he was brilliant.”
Firmino is likely to start for the Reds as Klopp looks to field a strong side against Atalanta tonight, as victory would ensure progress to the knock out, and give him the chance of resting players for the final two group games.