The Bobby Dazzler Gets Just Rewards for a Stellar Season

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So, a video wherein a contract was signed without looking, and said person proceeded to leave the room whistling ‘Allez Allez Allez’.

Liverpool’s announcement of Roberto Firmino extending his contract for five more years was about as Roberto Firmino as it could get.

Firmino isn’t about being normal. Be it his role on the pitch, his importance to Jurgen Klopp’s systems, the no-look finishes, the Kung-Fu kicks and the dances in celebrations, it’s almost like Roberto Firmino is there to break the norm.

What is undeniable is that Liverpool’s new highest-paid player is the most important player in the system that Jurgen Klopp now employs at the club.

Yes, Mohamed Salah, with his 43 goals, has undeniably been the best player for the club this season, but there is one man who makes the Egyptian and all those around him tick, and that is the Reds’ Brazilian no. 9.

That is about the only thing ‘normal’ about Firmino at Liverpool – he plays as a centre-forward and wears the no. 9 jersey. Pretty much everything else is about breaking the norms and creating a new method for centre-forwards to be successful with.

In the summer of 2015, Firmino joined Liverpool from Hoffenheim for £29 million, but it was an uninspiring, sluggish start to life on Merseyside for the Brazilian. He was deployed largely on the flanks by the then manager Brendan Rodgers, and he was struggling to have an influence on proceedings.

Perhaps, in a stroke of luck for Firmino, the Northern Irishman was gone after just seven league games in that season, and in came Jurgen Klopp, who with Firmino, has created a match made in heaven.

Klopp’s arrival took Firmino’s game to another level as he came in and played the Brazilian as the central striker, the focal point around which the team revolves.

Firmino only scored 11 and 12 goals in all competitions in 2015/16 and 2016/17 respectively but the combined tally of the last two seasons has already been bettered this time around, with the 26-year-old already having netted 27 this season, with (hopefully) four games left to play.

It’s not just Firmino’s goals that make him the player he is, though. Of course, it isn’t. The goals are the least of his contributions to this Liverpool side that Klopp has built. With 16 assists to his name already, Firmino is well and truly the most important cog in what has become one of the world’s most devastating forward trios – with the two Africans on either side of him reaping the rewards of the work that the Brazilian puts in.

In many ways, Firmino himself feeds off the work that Sadio Mane and Salah do. Their pace and movement makes Firmino’s strengths that much more amplified.

Firmino’s impeccable positional sense has dragged opponents out of position, providing space for Mane and Salah. Moving towards the ball. He frees up space for runners like Mane, Salah and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and this allows for a constant interchanging of positions which adds that bit of spark and a sense of unpredictability to Liverpool’s attacking play.

He has more assists in the league than any other striker, he has got himself more goals than he ever has in a single season for Liverpool, more goals than any other Brazilian in a single Premier League season, but his contributions don’t stop there.

There’s what he brings when the opposition is in possession of the ball as well. It is the one thing that a striker in a Klopp system must be willing to do – the running, the pressing, trying to win the ball high up the field. Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi couldn’t quite manage it at the intensity and the level that Klopp wanted, and they have walked through the exit door at Anfield, although it’s only a temporary exit, for now.

Only Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta has won more tackles than Firmino in the Premier League’s top six this season.

Firmino is a striker, but he is also a defensive midfielder, a creative midfielder, a centre-back and a full-back at the same time.

It is because of these traits that Firmino is the Brazilian Klopp could never afford to lose. It is because of these traits that Roberto Firmino has now been rewarded as the highest-paid player at the club.

Who’s to say that the recognition is undeserved for the Bobby Dazzler?

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