Roberto Firmino has been identified as a “problem” in Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool team amid his struggling form.
The Brazilian forward has had a poor campaign thus far, scoring just six times, with his performances also well below his usual standard.
Klopp has dismissed any negative criticism of Firmino in the past, hailing him as a “complete player” and insisting he “plays about 12 instruments in our orchestra”.
But Firmino’s disappointing contribution this season has not escaped Liverpool legend John Aldridge, who feels there are no guarantees the No.9 will turn things round.
“From my point of view as a former striker, there is no real belief in the forwards and it is horrible to see,” Aldridge told the Liverpool Echo.
“Look at Firmino, he is a problem. He has lost his mojo completely and I have been one of his biggest fans, but it has been like this for a long time now. It is evident to all the fans.
“Jurgen believes in him, of course, and he is continuing to play to get himself out of the slump but it looks more and more unlikely the longer it goes on.”
While Firmino was an important cog in Liverpool’s title win, his struggles arguably started last season, when it took him until the final home match to register a Premier League goal at Anfield.
He chimed in with 12 goals in that campaign, two of which crucially came in the Club World Cup finals, but his game, as Klopp suggests, is not just about scoring.
This season he has created the joint-highest number of assists for Liverpool (7), alongside Trent Alexander-Arnold, though his strike rate in front of goal does carry some concern.
New boy Diogo Jota has even jumped ahead of him, weighing in with double the amount of goals, and is now a serious threat to Firmino’s place in the starting XI, with Aldridge suggesting the Portuguese should be playing every game.
Quizzed what was going wrong for Firmino, Aldridge said: “His demeanour is different and he drops into midfield to do a job there at times, but when you have a number nine on your back, your job is to score goals.
“He’s lost his belief, totally, his confidence, everything in his game seems to have gone and he just can’t shake himself out of it. Maybe he needs a break? Maybe next season the return of the fans will help him out of it?”