Our Team of the Season for 2017/18 is completed with the addition of Roberto Firmino.
The Brazilian earned 31% backing in the recent forwards poll to claim a place alongside Harry Kane up front in a 3-5-2 formation.
Reclassified from a midfielder to a forward in Fantasy Premier League (FPL), he offered a strong double-up option alongside Mohamed Salah as a route into Liverpool’s prolific attack.
Starting at a bargain £8.5m, Firmino opened up with a pair of 12-point hauls in the opening three Gameweeks.
He added a further five double-figure tallies, serving up 15 goals, eight assists and 29 bonus points.
Firmino’s all-round style of play boosted his ability to bring in additional points in the Bonus Points System (BPS).
The Liverpool striker created more chances (57) than any rival up front and sat second for successful tackles, with 65.
As a result, he was awarded bonus points in 12 of the 13 matches that he scored in.
That kind opening price tag ensured that the Brazilian was a hot property in FPL – more than 4.6m managers drafted him in, second only to Harry Kane (5.4m) overall.
Ending the season at a cost of £9.5m, his £1.0m price rise was more than double any other forward apart from Kane (£0.6m).
Firmino allayed any fears over rotation by appearing in 37 of The Reds’ matches – more than any team-mate.
Only Salah (34 to 32) was named in Jurgen Klopp’s starting XI more often, with appearances off the bench mainly down to late-season progress in the Champions League and a congested festive schedule.
In terms of goal threat, Firmino was again second to Salah for shots (84 to 144) and efforts on target (37 to 66) for the Merseysiders.
Assessed against 2016/17, he received more big chances (from 14 to 17) and created more big chances (from 10 to 11).
On the downside, Firmino’s minutes per shot (from 30.7 to 33) and key pass (from 40 to 49) both dropped a little last term.
Nonetheless, a total of 181 points – one more than the previous campaign – earned him third place in the FPL forward standings behind Kane and Jamie Vardy.
Firmino’s price may ultimately determine how we assess his Fantasy appeal next season.
Certainly, a rise is inevitable in light of last term’s success. While a cost of up to £9.5m would be regarded as acceptable, a hike to £10m or £10.5m would likely deter many.
Given that Salah is poised for a hefty jump in price, those looking to invest in Liverpool may limit their interest to the Egyptian if Firmino also climbs into the premium bracket up top.
There’s no doubt that Salah’s consistency and ability to provide huge hauls gives him a considerable edge over his team-mate – he averaged 8.4 points per match to Firmino’s 4.9.
Firmino, on the other hand, required patience last time around.
He scored in just two of his 15 appearances from Gameweek 2-17 and finished the campaign with a single goal in seven fixtures.
While such sporadic returns were made easier to stomach by his price tag, a premium-priced Firmino would need to be far more reliable to be worth the investment.
There would be no surprise to see Firmino again claim a place in the top five forwards next time around, with his role as the spearhead of Liverpool’s attack undoubted.
That consistency of selection under Klopp clearly works in his favour, while a role as understudy to Gabriel Jesus for Brazil in this summer’s World Cup should keep Firmino relatively fresh for the start of 2018/19.
Depending on the price rise, though, he may have to up his output to remain such a popular pick.