By Noel Whelan

21st Oct, 2021 | 9:30am

Whelan in awe of Liverpool star Firmino after 'massive' Klopp claim

Noel Whelan has branded Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino as the Merseyside club’s “unsung hero” after their Champions League clash against Atletico Madrid.

The former Leeds striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, claimed the 30-year-old star is “as potent” as colleagues Mo Salah and Sadio Mane.

The Brazil international netted a hattrick on Saturday as Liverpool demolished Watford 5-0 at Vicarage Road.

As quoted by the Liverpool Echo before Liverpool’s Champions League clash against Atletico Madrid (October 18th), manager Jurgen Klopp branded “massive player” Firmino the “connector of pieces”.

The victory leaves Liverpool just a point adrift of Chelsea at the top of the Premier League.

The Merseyside club have scored the most goals (22) after eight matches.

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Whelan insisted Klopp’s limited transfer dealings in the summer have been vindicated, claiming they will be “up there” in the running for the title this season.

“If you keep a front three like that together, you’re going to be up there all day long,” he told Football Insider‘s Ewan Kingsbury.

“Firmino, he is the unsung hero.

“He’s the one who has the intelligence, creates the space. He’s not spoken about in the same breath as Mane and Salah because of their goal record.

“But if you get him on his day, he is just as potent as anyone.

“The reason Klopp didn’t buy too many players is that he knows what he’s got when everyone’s fully fit. That is what you’re seeing now.

“They will be up there at the end of the season, no doubt.”

Firmino has scored six goals in seven games across all competitions this season.

The striker joined Liverpool in 2015 from Hoffenheim for a reported £21.3million.

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