By Max Chaytor
Rather ironically, I am beginning this serious with a player who was not signed by Jurgen Klopp. He is a player that signed a Liverpool contract when Brendan Rodgers was at the helm. The player in question, is Roberto Firmino Barbosa de Oliveira; or Bobby for short.
Firmino was a skinny yet tricky forward for Hoffenheim back in 2014, who showed glimpses of talent but was never quite capable of putting it all together. However, Brendan Rodgers saw something in the Brazilian and splashed out £32 million to acquire his services. In the few weeks that Rodgers lasted in the 2015/16 season, Firmino rarely featured. But on 8thOctober 2015 when a former Borussia Dortmund coach came in and completely transformed him, and Liverpool Football Club.
Firmino became a player of great importance. He was distinctive on the football pitch. A slender little forward with a ponytail just nicked the ball off the other team. ‘Who was that?!’ rival fans would scream. It was Firmino, and by now the ball was already at the feet of another forward, who was about to either stick it in the back of the net or was about to pass to Firmino who would do the same. Infuriating for the rival fan; joyous to watch as a Red. He is illusive in how he moves around the pitch; players are always aware of him but never quite know when he’s going to nick the ball off you. But under Klopp, he isn’t just a workhorse. Being around players such as Phillipe Coutinho and Sadio Mane brought out that little bit of flair that was hiding away, and he started to score goals. Some good goals too. Ones that made you go, ‘He’s not bad this Firmino, is he?’
As the seasons went on, Firmino became better. He ran more than he did. Popped up in key positions, made more chances, scored more. He was key in the 2016/17 season that saw Liverpool qualify for the Champions League for the first time in 3 years. His name now being mentioned among the top strikers in the country. It was at this point that Liverpool fans suddenly thought of a song for the Brazilian. Just ‘BOBBY FIRMINO!’ for now. A more elaborate one to come. More on that later. For now, the newly christened ‘Bobby’ was focusing on scoring some Champions League goals for Liverpool.
This was the season where Firmino was now being recognised as a top player. He began to develop a knack for scoring, and was now part of Liverpool’s front 3 – Mane, Salah, Firmino. They assisted eachother, worked meticulously and methodically, they always know where each other are – and Liverpool became a scoring juggernaut because of it. Firmino’s goals and assists lead to another 4th place finish and a debut Champions League season end with a Second-Place medal, losing unluckily to the last team of the Ronaldo Real Madrid era. But this was the start of something special for Liverpool and for Firmino, who’s name was now recognised world-wide as an integral part of a special team that Jurgen Klopp was building at Anfield. He even cut off the ponytail and upgraded to smart, quaffed hair. Sleek.
After been left out for a majority of Brazil’s World Cup games, somehow playing behind 2nd choice City striker Gabriel Jesus, Firmino was now a key part to a Liverpool team that was tipped to push City for the title, and perhaps pick a trophy up on the way. The 2018/19 season was Firmino’s best in his career to date, scoring 16 times in all competitions including a hat-trick against Arsenal, and the small matter of a Champions League Winners medal along the way. But surely the best part about last season for Firmino was the creation of THE Bobby Firmino song.
“There’s something that the Kop want you to know, the best in the World is Bobby Firmino! Our number 9, give him the ball and he’ll score every time! Si Senor, give the ball to Bobby and he will score!” *repeat*. Yep. The best song in football right now. But aside from the joke of the song, Firmino has become a firm fan favourite at Anfield and the song makes that concrete. He has been a superb player for Liverpool since their transformation under Jurgen Klopp began this time 4 years ago, and he is now recognised as one of the best False 9’s in the World. Our Bobby.