Firmino's path at Liverpool
Rodgers was unsure of how best to deploy his £29m signing, marooning Firmino on the right wing for a 3-1 defeat at Manchester United in a horribly anonymous display. Soon after though, Rodgers was replaced by Jurgen Klopp. For Firmino - a player who had made his name in the Bundesliga and is in his own words "half Brazilian and half German on the pitch" - this was manna from heaven. Klopp was a huge admirer of Firmino, and soon after his appointment surprised the assembled Merseyside press pack by singing the praises of a player who hitherto had proved distinctly underwhelming.
Klopp soon handed Firmino a more central role, and though the goals didn't always flow, the Kop was quickly won over by the charming attacking sprite with the Duracell-bunny energy and glow-in-the-dark teeth. Firmino's joie de vivre is infectious, and reflects the tattoo (one of many) on his left hand that says "love life". But the absence of regular goals and assists meant that outside of Liverpool, there was a clamour for Klopp to sign an "out and out" striker last summer. Klopp dismissed such talk, and channelling his inner Billy Joel told Firmino that he wanted him just the way he was.
Klopp's faith has been handsomely repaid this season. Firmino has added goals, while not sacrificing those "clever balls" so popular with his manager and maintaining his hard-running style that underpins Liverpool's gegenpressing. Of Premier League forwards this season, Firmino has made the most sprints and the second highest number of tackles. One such example of his defending from the front eventually led to Firmino sweeping Liverpool into the lead at St Mary's last weekend. Suffice it to say, Henry nearly fainted when describing the sequence.
As Markus Babbel, a former Liverpool defender and one of Firmino's managers at Hoffenheim, said of the forward: "He is skilful and he can run for 90 minutes. He just wants to play." That description would just as aptly describe Liverpool's last great striker - Luis Suarez. Firmino is not quite at that level yet, but having made the jump from cult hero to pop idol, the leap to superstardom doesn't seem very far away.