Firmino's rejuvenation shows he is worthy of a new contract
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 12: Roberto Firmino of Liverpool celebrates their second goal during the UEFA Champions League group A match between Rangers FC and Liverpool FC at Ibrox Stadium on October 12, 2022 in Glasgow, United Kingdom. (Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)

"On a different level". Roberto Firmino scored a brace and produced a moment of magic to tee up Darwin Nunez through an audacious flick as Liverpool relentlessly ripped apart Rangers on their own turf. He walked off the pitch with a beaming smile, holding his Man of the Match award and deservedly receiving a nomination for Champions League player of the week.  The forward certainly made a compelling case in his bid for an extended contract.

 

The rejuvenation of Firmino has been one of the more positive plot twists in what has been an underwhelming season to say the least for Liverpool. He has stepped up time and time again to dig the Red's out of the deep holes that they have dug, reminding Europe of his undeniable high quality. 

With the signings of Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz and Darwin NunezFirmino who was once the heartbeat of Klopp's side, had been slowly phased out in favour of younger, more dynamic forwards as he started to show signs of decline. Last season, the forward only managed five Premier League goals- he has already surpassed this tally with 30 games to spare. Few could have predicted how integral his influence would have been this campaign.

Whatever has been tweaked in Firmino's routine has certainly worked wonders. Whether it is the arrival of Darwin Nunez or the fight to force himself into Brazil's World Cup squad: the fire that he now possesses can not be extinguished if he is to carry on this fine form. He seems to have reverted back to his 17/18 self, with elegance, fluidity and intelligence in abundance. 

This season, Firmino has reverted from a false 9 into more of a traditional 10. He is starting to play deeper, pick up pockets of space and interchange with Darwin Nunez in a more fluid system. With the 31 year old continuing to age, the tactical tweak from Klopp seems to have massively benefited him, with the advanced midfield role being tailor made for Firmino.

Despite this, he seems to have discovered a poachers instinct, with Firmino constantly finding himself in the right place in the right time with his intelligent movement proving beneficial.

The Brazilian is producing an impressive return with eight goals and four assists in 12 games. Numbers wise, he is in the best goal scoring form of his Liverpool career, currently averaging a goal every 88 minutes and 1.5 goal contributions per 90. Just behind Erling Haaland at 1.97

As Liverpool went behind for the 14th time in their last 20 games, it was once again up to Firmino to ignite the comeback.

He leaped above James Tavernier to nod in Kostas Tsmikas' corner at the near post to spark Liverpool into action- the 4th time this season he has scored the equaliser.

Firmino then doubled his tally, slotting home with his weak foot from close range, getting on the end of an excellent ball from Joe Gomez.

A sublime back heel assist put the icing on the cake on what was a vintage Firmino performance. His perfect touch, silky footwork and arrogant swagger seems to have returned after a lengthy sabbatical.

The assist put him level with Steven Gerrard as having provided the most Champions League assists for Liverpool with 12.

"I think he's an extremely clever player. He's one of these players, if you make a run, they know where you are. There's only certain players who have an awareness of where you are on the pitch, he's one of them.

"I think he's one of the most intelligent footballers I've seen in a long, long time. His game awareness and game intelligence is absolutely second to none. Great footballer" said Ally McCoist after the game.

It remains to be seen if FSG decide to hand Firmino a new contract, with John Henry not being too keen in extending players over the age of 30. But with James Milner and Jordan Henderson recently penning new deals, it is hard to justify not keeping Firmino on board.

His Liverpool story is not over just yet, with further chapters yet to be written.

No matter what happens, Firmino will go down as a Liverpool great and one of the most influential players of the Klopp era.

Should he stay, he has proven that he still has an integral role to play in Liverpool's never ending pursuit of success. 

 

 

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