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Brazilian manager Tite has revealed Roberto Firmino played through injury to help secure Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side secure a spot in the Champions League.
The 25-year-old was left out of the Selecao for the international friendly double-header against South American rivals Argentina as well as Australia in June- with his club teammate and compatriot Philippe Countinho named as captain in the latter.
Firmino’s absence came as somewhat of a surprise as he started the 3-0 win over Middlesbrough on the final day of the 2016/17 season and then featured – and scored – in an end-of-season friendly against Sydney a few days later.
However, the Brazilian boss has explained that the forward’s fitness issues was the reason behind him not being called up:
“Firmino was in poor physical condition, he only played for Liverpool because of the importance of the games. I decided to rest him,” he explained, as reported by This Is Anfield.
“Klopp asked us to spare both players, however the medical report showed Coutinho is ready, so we told Klopp that we will select him.
“Firmino wouldn’t have played if Liverpool weren’t fighting for a Champions League spot. We understood his medical condition so we spared him.
“Klopp wanted Coutinho to rest, but I insisted on selecting him because I had never tried him in central midfield, I wanted to do it.”
The Brazilian’s importance to Jurgen Klopp was highlighted by the fact that he was one of the most often used players for the Reds last season. In the Premier League, Firmino missed just three games – completing 90 minutes on 27 occasions – while in all competition only Nathaniel Clyne (3,616) accumulated more minutes than him (3,463), according to Squawka.
Much would be expected of him next season as the German boss is yet to sign a centre-forward to provide competition for the Brazilian.
Liverpool have confirmed that Roberto Firmino will wear the No.9 shirt for Liverpool next season after Mohamed Salah was given the No.11. pic.twitter.com/qG7gdtuCFR
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) June 22, 2017
Furthermore, the ‘false 9’ has inherited the iconic number nine shirt – previously worn by the likes of Robbie Fowler, Ian Rush and Fernando Torres – after swapping from the no.11 squad number following the arrival of Mohamed Salah.