Brazil legend Kaka has labelled compatriot Roberto Firmino the joint-best striker in world football.
The 2007 Ballon d‘Or winner believes Firmino’s unorthodox centre-forward play is essential to Jurgen Klopp‘s trailblazing system at Liverpool.
How important is Firmino to Liverpool? Five things to know…
- Firmino is not renowned as a prolific goalscorer, but his positional awareness and link-up play are second to none.
- His ability to drop deep and create space helps Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane thrive at Anfield.
- But it’s not just Firmino propensity to drift in-between the lines that makes him so important to his teammates.
- Since the start of 2016/17, no Liverpool player has created more chances than Firmino (214).
- Firmino also averaged the second-most tackles per 90 minutes (1.2) among all Premier League forwards last season (15+ apps only).
Under the German’s watch, the European champions have cantered to the Premier League summit and currently sit 22 points clear of second-placed Manchester City.
The Reds have conceded just 15 goals this campaign, nearly half the number of City, but once again Klopp’s three-pronged attack has wreaked havoc in the final third.
Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane have combined to scored 25 goals this term, but Firmino’s involvement up-top has simply transcended records and metrics, though he is certainly no laggard when it comes to direct contributions.
In fact, the Brazilian is yet to reach double digits in the Premier League this term, but Kaka believes there is more to his game than pure goalscoring devastation and has ranked the marksman above the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Ciro Immobile.
“Alisson is the best goalkeeper in the world right now, Fabinho is one of the best midfielders, and Firmino and (Luis) Suarez are the best strikers in the world,” Kaka told Sky Sports.
“Firmino understands his place on the field and changes his position. He doesn’t stay in the box the whole time, he comes and gets the ball and creates the plays.
“For me, as a Brazilian, it’s really good to see them having this great success in the Premier League.”
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Kaka: Jurgen Klopp is a “pioneer coach”
Kaka also reserved special praise for the man at the wheel, believing Klopp has revolutionised the dugout, but has forewarned the champions-elect that this season may be the peak of their achievements.
“It’s good to see a team playing this way because it’s just one season,” he added.
“I am not saying Liverpool are bad but in a competition like the Premier League, it’s hard to have a season like this.
“It shows that Liverpool are in very good shape and have a very good coach and players.
“Jurgen is a pioneer coach. He’s not afraid to change and try something different. The Premier League is very good because of the coaches that are in this league.”