Firmino is key to best Liverpool squad for a long time


Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino celebrates scoring with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah

Roberto Firmino has scored three goals in all competitions for Liverpool this season

Brazil forward Roberto Firmino is “the key” to Liverpool’s “best squad for a very long time”, says former captain Steven Gerrard.

Jurgen Klopp’s side are top of the Premier League after winning all six of their top-flight games this season.

Firmino, 26, has two goals and two assists in the league, and also scored the winner against Paris St-Germain in the Champions League.

“Firmino is an absolute genius when you watch him close up,” said Gerrard.

“He’s as interested in setting up a goal as scoring one.”

Rangers manager Gerrard acknowledged Liverpool’s other frontline forwards – Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane – are vital to their success but added: “The key is Firmino.”

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live, he added: “They’ve got decent back-up – if they were to lose Salah or Mane, Daniel Sturridge seems to be in good shape and scoring goals and then they’ve got Divock Origi and Dominic Solanke.”

Liverpool signed Firmino from Hoffenheim in 2015, shortly after Gerrard’s final season as a Reds player. The former England midfielder returned to Anfield as a youth coach until his move to Ibrox in May.

“Every time I received the ball he was always available and looking for other players – he’s a dream to play with,” said Gerrard.

Gerrard won the Champions League, the Uefa Cup, two FA Cups and three League Cups during his 17 seasons at Anfield but said his Liverpool sides “were short in certain positions” in failing to win the Premier League title.

“I look at Liverpool now and can’t find any weaknesses when they’re at full strength,” he said.

“This is a lot stronger than the team I played in – it’s Liverpool’s best squad for a very long time.

“The only thing they haven’t got going for them is the experience. As someone who went very close, we lacked that experience.”

‘Milner is in the form of his life’

Gerrard also said the standard of James Milner’s performances this season has given summer signings Naby Keita and Fabinho the time to “find their feet” in Liverpool’s midfield.

“Milner is causing them selection problems. He’s in the form of his life,” he said.

“On current form he is the first name on the teamsheet.”

And Gerrard added that goalkeeper Alisson, who joined from Roma this summer in a deal worth up to a reported £66.8m, and centre-back Virgil van Dijk, a £75m signing from Southampton in January, have “made a big difference”.

“Liverpool have looked a different animal since Van Dijk came in and Alisson brings more composure and trust,” he said.

“In time that’ll be the big difference – the front three will always score goals and the midfielders back them up too – but it’s all been about trying to improve defensively and they’re very close.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/45687533

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