On The Ball

'Unique' but wasteful Firmino may have burnt out too soon

Roberto Firmino has gone from irrepressible and indispensable to a fading force.
Roberto Firmino has gone from irrepressible and indispensable to a fading force.PHOTO: REUTERS

Roberto Firmino kick-started Jurgen Klopp's reign at Liverpool. Perhaps he provided the swing of the boot that took it to its zenith. Sixteen months ago, the Brazilian scored the only goal in the Club World Cup final. The German had inherited a team 10th in the English Premier League and achieved world domination.

Firmino, 29, had been a flagship success, miscast as a winger by Brendan Rodgers, never scoring for the manager who was at Anfield when he was signed. Klopp's first seismic wins, at Chelsea and Manchester City, came with Firmino reinvented as a false nine. His first Liverpool goal came in his 14th game and in Manchester.

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