Roberto Firmino is ‘the heart and soul’ of Liverpool, says Jürgen Klopp

Roberto Firmino is ‘the heart and soul’ of Liverpool, says Jürgen Klopp

Jürgen Klopp has said Roberto Firmino is “the heart and soul” of Liverpool and essential to his plans for the coming season, despite uncertainty over the striker’s long-term future.

The 30-year-old has entered the final 12 months of his contract and reports in Italy have claimed he is a £20m transfer target for Juventus. Liverpool have secured Mohamed Salah on a lucrative new three-year contract and sold Sadio Mané to Bayern Munich but doubt continues to surround Firmino’s position. Speaking at a pre-Community Shield press conference on Thursday, Klopp did not provide an update on the Brazil international’s contract situation but made it clear the forward is not for sale in this window.

“Bobby is crucial for us, the heart and soul of this team, the way we played in the last years was only possible because of Bobby,” said the Liverpool manager. “That’s why I’m really happy he was able to train for the majority of the time here in pre-season so far. Everything looks really good so I am absolutely fine. There is no doubt about Bobby’s quality. All the rest we will see how this year goes but he is essential for us.”

Liverpool face Manchester City in Saturday’s Community Shield at the King Power Stadium, where they will be without the first-choice goalkeeper Alisson and striker Diogo Jota through injury. Alisson has not featured in pre-season since the friendly defeat by Manchester United on 12 July but has resumed training and is expected to start the Premier League opener at Fulham on 6 August. Adrián will start against City because the second-choice keeper Caoimhín Kelleher is also injured. Jota has missed all of pre-season with a recurrence of a hamstring problem.

Klopp said: “Alisson and Diogo have no chance [for Saturday]. Ali trained today more than the day before so he will be definitely available for Fulham, but not for the weekend. And the same for Diogo. Diogo was not here with us [in a pre-season training camp in Austria] so how could he play a football game? That will take a while unfortunately.”