Firmino key for Reds says Gerrard

Forward Roberto Firmino is “the key” to Liverpool’s “best squad for a very long time”, says club legend Steven Gerrard.

Jurgen Klopp’s side are top of the Premier League after winning all six of their top-flight games this season.

“Firmino is an absolute genius when you watch him close up,” Gerrard told BBC Radio 5 live. “He’s as interested in setting up a goal as scoring one.”

Gerrard, currently manager of Scottish giants Rangers, acknowledged Liverpool’s other main forwards – Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane – are vital to their success but added: “The key is Firmino.”

“They’ve got decent back-up – if they were to lose Salah or Mane, Daniel Sturridge seems to be in good shape and scoring goals and then they’ve got Divock Origi and Dominic Solanke.”

Liverpool signed Firmino from Hoffenheim in 2015, shortly after Gerrard’s final season as a Reds player. The former England midfielder was a youth coach at Anfield until he was appointed as Rangers boss in May.

“Every time I received the ball he was always available and looking for other players – he’s a dream to play with,” Gerrard said.

Gerrard won the Champions League, the Uefa Cup, two FA Cups and three League Cups during his time at Anfield but said the Liverpool sides he played for “were short in certain positions”.

“I look at Liverpool now and can’t find any weaknesses when they’re at full strength,” he said. “This is a lot stronger than the team I played in – it’s Liverpool’s best squad for a very long time.

“The only thing they haven’t got going for them is the experience. As someone who went very close, we lacked that experience.”

Gerrard also said James Milner’s performances this season have given new signings Naby Keita and Fabinho time to “find their feet” in Liverpool’s midfield.

“Milner is causing them selection problems. He’s in the form of his life,” he said.
“On current form he is the first name on the teamsheet.”

Gerrard added that goalkeeper Alisson, who joined from Roma this summer and centre-back Virgil van Dijk, signed from Southampton in January, have “made a big difference”.

“Liverpool have looked a different animal since Van Dijk came in and Alisson brings more composure and trust,” he said.

“In time that’ll be the big difference – the front three will always score goals and the midfielders back them up too – but it’s all been about trying to improve defensively and they’re very close.”