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‘Firmino is like an extra man for Liverpool’ – Wijnaldum hails ‘unbelievable’ Brazilian striker

7:31 PM GMT+8 31/01/2020
Roberto Firmino Liverpool
The Dutch midfielder is delighted to be on the same team as a hard-working frontman and says he always expected Virgil van Dijk to shine at Anfield

Having Roberto Firmino in the team is like having 12 players on the field for Liverpool, says Georgino Wijnaldum, with the Brazilian striker considered to be an “unbelievable” asset.

Eyebrows were raised when Brendan Rodgers sanctioned a big-money move for the South American back in the summer of 2015.

At that time, with the Reds still seeking a suitable successor to Luis Suarez, it was unclear where a frontman who had never been prolific fit into the bigger picture at Anfield.

It was, however, when Rodgers was replaced by Jurgen Klopp that the hard-working 28-year-old really came into his own.

Firmino, alongside Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, is now an integral part of one of the most fearsome attacking units in world football.

He has delivered a steady stream of goals and assists across four-and-a-half seasons, but his value to the collective cause cannot be measured in mere end product alone.

Dutch midfielder Wijnaldum told JOE of a talented team-mate: “Bobby is the kind of player that makes it easier for the whole team.

“With him on the pitch, you play with an extra man. So you play with 12 players on the pitch because he works so hard. And he scores goals, he lets other people score goals.

“He’s a defender, he’s a midfielder, he’s a striker, he gives assists, he has everything.

“I played one time as a striker and that’s when I saw how difficult it is to do what he does, because that’s unbelievable.

“And Bobby as a person is a wonderful person. You can laugh with him, you can talk with him, I’m really happy to have him as a team-mate.”

Another key component in Jurgen Klopp’s Premier League title-chasing side is commanding centre-half Virgil van Dijk.

Wijnaldum claims he always expected a fellow countryman to be the final piece in the puzzle for Liverpool, with the 28-year-old bringing important qualities with him in a £75 million ($98m) move.

“Really good, also because he is a really funny person,” Wijnaldum said of his club colleague and international captain.

“I worked with him at the national team, played with him, so I already knew which kind of player he was.

“And I knew that when he came he could transform the back line, but also the line in front of him. So the midfielders. The way he puts everyone in their position helps the whole team, so he’s a leader in that way.”

Van Dijk, Firmino and Wijnaldum have helped Liverpool to open up a 19-point lead at the top of the Premier League table, with Klopp’s side looking to add to the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup crowns they claimed in 2019.