LONDON (Reuters) – Brazilian Roberto Firmino has proved he is a real striker who can score goals regularly for Liverpool, according to manager Juergen Klopp.
A double in the dramatic 5-4 victory at Norwich City on Saturday followed two goals in the 3-3 draw with Arsenal 10 days earlier, the 21 million-pound ($30 million) Firmino having been chosen ahead of even more expensive striker Christian Benteke in both games.
When he failed to score in between times against Manchester United, questions were asked about whether he could play up front on his own, but Klopp says the Norwich match answered the question.
“Three days after Man United everyone asked ‘Firmino is not really a target striker,’” Klopp told reporters.
“Roberto is a striker. He is a very offensive player.
“A very offensive player can be a striker if you have the physical things.
“He can play there. He can make goals, he can score goals. He’s flexible, and he’s in brilliant shape.”
Benteke has been out of form and not scored in 2016 but he could still start in Tuesday’s Capital One Cup semi-final second leg at home to Stoke City, in which Liverpool have a 1-0 lead.
“Having the option with Christian is good,” Klopp said.
“We have so many games that I can’t say this (player) or this is number one. We always have to make decisions.”
The manager knows, however, that they must defend better against Stoke, especially at set plays, if they are to reach the Wembley final and give him the opportunity of a first trophy since succeeding Brendan Rodgers in October.
“It’s really frustrating,” he said.
“We have to work on it and that is what we are doing.”
($1 = 0.7005 pounds)
(Reporting by Steve Tongue, editing by Ed Osmond)