Roberto Firmino's constant adaptation to the demands of the Premier League in the past two years has made the Brazilian one of Liverpool's most important players.
That is according to John Barnes, who has been pleasantly surprised by the way the forward has learned from the nuances of the English game to regularly influence matches.
Having officially signed for the Reds on this day in 2015, Firmino improved his goal tally from 11 to 12 last season and will wear the iconic No.9 for the upcoming campaign.
“He has been fantastic,” Barnes told Liverpoolfc.com.
“It’s difficult, coming to the Premier League as a South American – yes, he was playing in Germany – and particularly the type of player he is.
“He has got fantastic ability. When you look at him, when you look at the way he plays, moves and controls the ball, his awareness, he doesn’t look quick but he’s quick and he moves the ball around.
“I felt he was a little bit inconsistent when he first came. Of course, coming from South America and playing in the German league, which is not as frenetic as it is here, I didn’t think he would adapt as he did.
“But in the big games, the hard games and the tough games he just got better and better and better. It was ‘Is he going to be able to maintain it?’ I think he was probably one of our most consistent players in the last half of last season.
“I’m so pleased for him, because you know the ability he has. Because of his style, there are times when games are going well and he’s fantastic, he’s the best player.
“When he has to work and games get tough, in the early days you could see him dropping out of them – whereas now, he has been fantastic.”
Firmino combined with the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Adam Lallana and Sadio Mane to often sensational effect at times in 2016-17 as Liverpool secured a top-four finish in the Premier League.
Daniel Sturridge returned in the closing weeks of the season to make crucial contributions too, and new signing Mohamed Salah will now be added to the mix after joining from AS Roma.
The opportunity for the Reds to share their goals around is a positive in Barnes’ opinion.
“We have a lot of players like that with Mane, Coutinho, Firmino, Lallana and now also Salah coming in,” the legend added. “We will have a lot of firepower without necessarily having one person to score all the goals.”
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