Football

Carragher: Firmino almost as crucial to Reds as Kane is to Spurs

Harry Kane might be the most feted forward in world football at the moment but Jamie Carragher believes that Roberto Firmino is almost as crucial to Liverpool as the Englishman is to Tottenham Hotspur.

The former Reds and England defender made the comment after his former team beat Swansea City 5-0 yesterday morning (Singapore time), just hours after Kane scored the last of his 56 goals in all competitions this year, making him the most prolific scorer from the Europe's big five leagues in 2017.

Firmino bagged a brace against the Swans to take his tally to 15 goals in all competitions for Liverpool this season, nine fewer than the 24-year-old Kane.

It prompted Carragher to tell Sky Sports: "'The great thing about Firmino now is that he is actually scoring more goals this season.

"He's a lot more productive.

"Fifteen (goals) halfway through a season. If he can get close to 30, or 25-plus, I don't think you can complain with your main centre forward.

"We mentioned Harry Kane at half-time. Is he as ruthless as him in front of goal? No.

"But he may even be almost as important to Liverpool as Harry Kane is to Spurs for the work he does off the ball...

"For all of the talent in this Liverpool team, especially with (Philippe) Coutinho, I still believe Firmino is one of the first names on the team sheet."

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp, too, was full of praise for his 26-year-old striker, who has scored six times and added another two assists in the Reds' last six English Premier League matches.

Said Klopp: "Roberto, I appreciate always his effort and his performance, that he scores twice, I'm happy about that...

"I feel he is always involved, he is always in and around the really dangerous situations for the opponent.

"First half, he helped left fullback to right fullback, he was everywhere. In the end, he scored two goals, so that's nice."

While much of the hype at Anfield has surrounded the stunning scoring exploits of Mohamed Salah and the silky skills of Coutinho, Firmino's more subtle stylings are also hard to ignore.

British daily The Daily Telegraph's match report after the Swansea game called Firmino "the facilitator" and "the most underrated player beyond Merseyside".

They wrote: "Ask Juergen Klopp about his irreplaceable Brazilian and the Liverpool manager might ask: 'Which one?'

"While Philippe Coutinho's value swells in a season of personal excellence, Roberto Firmino may be the most underrated player beyond Merseyside.

"His application enables others to shine.

"He is the facilitator."

Football