Liverpool. manager Jurgen Klopp believes Roberto Firmino’s excellent form for Liverpool may now be more obvious following the departure of his former teammate Philippe Coutinho.
Roberto Firmino scored his 20th goal of the season in all competitions at Southampton on Sunday, with five of those strikes in the Champions League.
Only Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo have scored more goals in that competition this term.
Firmino has combined with Mohamed Salah to score 49 goals for Liverpool this season
“When I came in I said immediately that I was happy Roberto was here,” Klopp said at a news conference on Tuesday to preview Liverpool’s Champions League round-of-16 tie at Porto. “I don’t think he has stepped up recently but maybe it is more obvious because his situations are not overshadowed by Phil Coutinho’s situations. That’s how it is.
“He’s a very important player and he doesn’t always have to be the standout player. As often as he can be, that’s good. Is he underrated? I don’t think so, not anymore. I don’t know what other people think about Roberto Firmino. But people with a football brain judge him right.”
Firmino said the exit last month of Coutinho, his close friend, forced he and his Liverpool teammates to step up and take on further responsibility.
“Coutinho is a great player and of course, when he left, that put a greater responsibility on everyone else to perform without him,” Firmino said. “It is our job to deal with greater responsibility and I think we have done that so far.
“I’m going to do what I can to help [Salah] score goals and to help all the team. I also want to help myself to make a good season.”