While all of the plaudits are going towards Mohammed Salah, Liverpool also have one of the most underrated players in the whole Premier League in their ranks.
Much has been made of how well Salah is performing this season, and quite rightly so. The ‘Egyptian king’ is likely to be one of the front runners for the PFA player of the year award, along with Man City’s Kevin de Bruyne and Spurs’ Harry Kane. He is also pushing Kane for the coveted golden boot award after bagging his 22nd goal of the season in Sunday’s game against Southampton.
During that game, he also bagged himself an assist, by setting up a lovely counter attack goal which was scored by Roberto Firmino, who repaid the favour later in the half by setting up Salah’s strike.
However, despite all of the attention on Salah, it is Firmino who is flying under the radar, and in my opinion, is one of the most underrated players in the Premier League.
Signed from Hoffenheim for £29m in 2015, he had an instant impact, scoring 10 goals in the Premier League during his first season. He added another 11 to his tally last season, in a campaign where Sadio Mane took all the plaudits, and has already bettered that tally this season (12) with 11 matches still to play.
In total this season, the Brazilian has contributed to an impressive 30 goals, scoring 20, and providing a further 10 assists.
He has scored the same amount in the league as £75m Romelu Lukaku. He has scored more than the likes of Eden Hazard, Alvaro Morata, Alexandre Lacazette and Kevin De Bruyne. He also has more assists than all of those players aside from the Manchester City star.
But not only is it his goalscoring and goal creating abilities that make him so vital for Liverpool, it’s his all round game play.
There are tricks, flicks, neat one-two’s, all which contribute to Liverpool’s slick style of play which is often lauded as some of the best attacking football in the land. There is also his impressive work rate. He is often the trigger for the press. As the focal point of the team, everyone can see him. If he presses, everyone presses. It forces teams to play the ball quickly, and hopefully for Liverpool, make mistakes and ultimately, surrender possession.
So why is he so underrated? Well predominantly it is because of Salah’s form, but I also believe it has something to do with his price tag and expectations placed upon him.
When Salah came into the club last summer, much was made of the price tag (£35m) and the fact that he had pretty much failed to make an impact at Chelsea earlier in his career. Would he be able to cut it in the Premier League? He has so far answered that question with a resounding yes.
As for Firmino, he came in as a relative unknown for a slightly more modest fee and potentially as one for the future. The form of Mane last season and Salah this, has allowed the Brazilian to go under the radar of the media.
But make no mistake, Roberto Firmino is one of the Premier League’s most underrated players.