Rio Ferdinand disagrees with Michael Owen that Roberto Firmino’s place in the Liverpool team is currently “under threat”.
Firmino has 80 goals in his 258 appearances for Liverpool since making the move to Anfield from Hoffenheim back in 2015, becoming a crowd favourite and helping the club to Premier League and Champions League success.
The Brazilian reached double figures for Premier League goals in each of his first four seasons at Liverpool but fell short by one goal as Jurgen Klopp’s men lifted the Premier League title last term.
Firmino’s lack of goals compared to fellow forwards Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane has been highlighted recently, with extra scrutiny on his displays since the arrival of Diogo Jota from Wolves in the summer.
And Owen reckons it’s the presence of Jota that could see Firmino lose his place in the side.
Owen told BT Sport: “I think he’s under threat because no-one could’ve foreseen how good this lad is. He surprised me, I liked him at Wolves, but all of a sudden, you watch him now and you think that he’s born to play in this Liverpool team.
“He’s quicker than I thought he was. I knew he was technically good, the timing of his runs, the way he’s linking, he has shown me that he can slot into those positions.
“The great thing about those strikers, they can all play with their backs to goal. They’re stronger than you think. Salah and Mane, in particular, they’re strong as an ox. They can run at you, they can all be all-round centre-forwards, but Jota has slipped in there seamlessly. You have to start him, if they had the Champions League final tomorrow, you can’t leave him out.”
However, Ferdinand reckons Firmino’s value to the side is demonstrated by more than just goals.
The former Manchester United defender said: “You can’t talk about Firmino with any negativity I think, even if he hasn’t scored the goals that Mane and Salah have scored. His importance to this team cannot be undervalued, the way he holds the ball up and brings others into play.
“He gets back into positions where defenders start creeping out and wondering if they should go with him, and he asks you that question. What does that do? It opens up space in behind for the other two to fly in to. Jota can do a bit of both as well. All four of them, they’re all comfortable across the front three.”
Liverpool were meant to run out of steam. David Moyes wasn’t supposed to still be in a job. Oops.