When Roberto Firmino failed to score in his 13 games in a Liverpool shirt, fans quickly feared that he would be a flop.
And an expensive one at that. Firmino cost the Reds £29 million from Hoffenheim and supporters were disappointed when he didn’t make an immediate impact.
But the Brazilian has turned things around in emphatic style. His strike against Watford on Sunday was his 11th of the season and no Liverpool player has been involved in more Premier League goals (17).
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Evidence that Firmino is now an integral part of Jurgen Klopp’s team was made clear on Sunday when he started the game on the bench, a precautionary decision made with the Europa League final in mind.
And Klopp reckons a lesson can be learned by Firmino’s resurgence: “Don’t be too quick to judge players.”
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The former Borussia Dortmund boss, who arrived in October, told the Liverpool Echo: “It wasn’t a surprise to me when I heard people questioning him. That’s how it is in Germany too.
“You don’t watch too much German football. You get a player from Hoffenheim in Germany and everyone thought: ‘oh, a nice signing Liverpool’.
“But not many people here knew him because he wasn’t from Bayern, he wasn’t from Dortmund.
“I knew about Roberto. When I heard that Liverpool had signed him I thought: ‘how have they done this?’"
Firmino scored 48 goals in 152 appearances for Hoffenheim but his influence has been felt most playing just behind the striker. His creativity has aided Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi and you could produce an impressive highlight-reel from his 29-minute performance against Watford.
Klopp continued: “Now with Roberto you can see the confidence in his work. All the players are more confident than before because they’ve had more time working together.
“We’ve had an intense time but it’s been a good time together. We know a lot more about each other.
“Watford was the team’s 60th game of the season – that’s unbelievable. For me, it’s only been 49.
“What we can learn from Roberto’s situation going forward when it comes to next season’s signings is wait to make judgements. Don’t be too quick to judge players.”
Klopp will hope that Joel Matip can make the adjustment from Bundesliga to Premier League just as smoothly as Firmino did.
In February, the Reds announced that Matip will join from Schalke in the summer as he looks to build a defence that can help Liverpool contend for the title.