Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino has been “off the pace” so far this season, and could find his place in the team under pressure long-term due to Diogo Jota, claims Jamie Carragher.
Firmino has been out of sorts in the current campaign, having played a key role in the Reds’ march to the Premier League title last year.
From the first ten games of the season, he has only managed to find the net once – against Sheffield United last month.
He’s found himself dropping deeper and playing further away from goal, limiting his chances of scoring goals.
Unlike pacey wingers Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, he is rarely seen drifting out wide and running at defenders with the ball.
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His drop in form has coincided with the rise of new signing Jota, who has burst onto the scene in recent weeks.
The £41million man scored his first hat-trick for the Reds in the Champions League during the week as he put in a show-stopping performance in the 5-0 rout of Atalanta.
Jota has now scored seven goals in his first ten games for Liverpool – more than Firmino has managed in the entire year.
That impressive spell of form has led to calls for Jurgen Klopp to drop the Brazilian and give Jota his place in the front three.
And Carragher explained on Sky Sports that he can understand the argument, and detailed the three things Jota has that Firmino does not – energy, work-rate and pressing.
The former defender previewed the decision Klopp has ahead of him and admitted the Liverpool boss has a “problem” to solve.
“The fact we’re asking the question shows something has not been quite right with Bobby Firmino,” Carragher said.
“I think last season wasn’t his best season and he’s been off the pace at the start of this season.
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“You can look at the numbers, if you look at actual goals, Firmino is nowhere near where Mane and Salah are.
“Liverpool fans and everyone accepts that because he wins the ball back, he starts that press and that’s what this team is most famous for.
“He’s well down on that this season, Salah and Mane are now winning the ball back more than Firmino so he’s not even doing what he’s supposed to be in the team for.
“The man who has been brought in for competition, rather than replace the front three, is getting goals. That’s been lacking with Firmino.
“The decision comes as a manager, ‘do I pick someone who scores me more goals or do I pick someone who works for the team and presses for the team?’
“The other big problem Firmino has is Jota works, he presses and he has energy. That’s why the big debate has started, nobody is not understanding Firmino’s role.
“He’s (Jota) just full of energy, he presses the ball, he was called a ‘pressing monster’ by Jurgen Klopp’s assistant, who knows him really well.
“Every time he’s on the pitch, he brings energy, I think he livens the others up.”
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