London (AFP) – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says Roberto Firmino is a key player in his Anfield “orchestra” despite the Brazil forward’s recent lack of goals for the Premier League champions.
Firmino’s header in Sunday’s 3-0 victory over Leicester was only his sixth goal in the whole of 2020.
Firmino’s lack of goals is a stark contrast to Klopp’s free-scoring trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota.
The 29-year-old has never been viewed as a pure finisher, but criticism of his lack of goals has grown in recent months.
However, Klopp, whose side host Atalanta in the Champions League on Wednesday, insists Firmino’s value is measured in more than just goals.
“Scoring was always important for Bobby but Bobby is a complete footballer,” Klopp said on Tuesday.
“A football team is like an orchestra, you have different people for different instruments, and some of them are louder than others, but they are all important for the rhythm.
“Bobby plays like 12 instruments in our orchestra. He’s very important for our rhythm.”
Jota’s fine form since joining from Wolves has raised questions about Firmino’s place in the starting lineup, but Klopp said he was not worried about the Brazilian.
“I’m not concerned about anything with Bobby, but I know from time to time it happens that he scores a goal,” he said.
“This goal was very important, and what I loved most was the reaction of the boys. You saw the celebration, it was really emotional.
“Obviously the players read newspapers, unfortunately, and they saw there was some criticism, so they were really happy for him to score.”
Liverpool will welcome back Salah after he missed the Leicester game because of a positive coronavirus test while on international duty for Egypt. He has now tested negative.
Three points against Atalanta would guarantee progress to the Champions League knockout phase and offer Klopp the chance to rest players.
Liverpool have kept four clean-sheets in their past seven matches despite a defensive injury crisis and have yet to concede a goal in three European games this season.
“How the boys did it is exceptional — different line-ups, different pairings, but now we have to keep doing it like this, or even better,” Klopp said.
“The changes we have to make, we will make, the boys will have to adapt to each other, to different line-ups.
“But not all of it is born on the training pitch, because the schedule doesn’t give us time to work on it.”
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