Klopp: Firmino deal shows Liverpool are going in the right direction

Jurgen Klopp and Roberto Firmino
The Brazilian has signed a five-year deal at Anfield and his manager expects others to follow suit in the future

Jurgen Klopp believes Roberto Firmino’s new contract is “a very important step” in Liverpool’s quest to make the club one of the most attractive places in world football.

The Brazilian star has put pen to paper on a five-year deal at Anfield, with the Reds keen to reward the progress of a player who is central to what Klopp is looking to achieve at the club.

Firmino, speaking on Sunday, said that it was an "easy" decision to commit his future, and Klopp is clearly delighted to have tied down one of his star performers.

"It's unbelievably important news for us," he said. "Really cool!

"I heard what he said about it being an easy decision for him and I can really imagine that it was. He knows and appreciates absolutely this club, and the other boys really respect him for all the work he's doing.

"This constant discussion about whether he's under-valued or whatever in public, this never happened for one second either in the club or in the team.

"He feels completely comfortable and is planning for the long-term here. That's becoming rare because if you are not Barcelona or not Real Madrid then there's usually another club somewhere you can go to.

"It's really good news for us. He's absolutely a big factor in our future."

Klopp has spoken in the past of his desire to make Liverpool the kind of place top players view as a "final destination" rather than a stepping stone. That view took a hit with Philippe Coutinho’s move to Barcelona in January, but with Liverpool likely to follow up Firmino’s new deal by offering fresh terms to both Sadio Mane and 43-goal star Mo Salah, the manager is happy to see progress being made.

"This is one very important step," he said. "Absolutely. But even Roberto cannot play alone! We need to carry on in this way.

"In the moment every player knows about our plans. He's the first [to commit] but for sure he won't be the last."

Roberto Firmino Liverpool

While the free-scoring Salah, naturally, has garnered headlines all season long, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Firmino, the No.9, is at least as important to the way Klopp wants his side to play. The 26-year-old’s non-stop work ethic, which is evident in training as well as matches, is the perfect foil to the speed and threat of Salah and Mane.

Klopp, clearly, is his biggest fan.

"He's a footballer, from his head to his toes!" he smiled.

"He enjoys playing football and he's not bothered about hard work which is another important thing. Because Millie [James Milner] didn't play the last game [against Stoke] from the start, Roberto had the highest distance covered. For an offensive player that is pretty rare in world football!

Roberto Firmino against Stoke

"I often think that because he doesn't give himself a rest I have to do it from time to time. That's all good and how football should be. You play it because you have the opportunity to make your mates better and they help you to become the best player you can be. It's as simple as that.

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"I am happy to have Roberto around - he's just a good boy in the dressing room. It's perfect news."

Firmino will be part of the Liverpool squad that flies out of John Lennon Airport for Rome on Tuesday afternoon, ahead of the Reds’ Champions League semi-final second leg with Roma on Wednesday evening.

Mane, Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez are all expected to travel despite injury scares. Liverpool head to the Stadio Olimpico protecting a 5-2 lead from last week’s first leg at Anfield.