Brendan Rodgers has predicted summer signing Roberto Firmino will bring to Liverpool what Alexis Sanchez brought to Arsenal in his first Premier League season. The former Swansea gaffer tried to sign the Chile international last summer to fill the gap left by the departure of Luis Suarez to Barcelona. However Sanchez opted to move to North London, where he quickly became a key part of Arsene Wenger's side, scoring 25 goals and assisting 12 in the whole campaign.
Rodgers was thus forced to turn to the likes of Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert to strengthen his attack, with both struggling to make much of an impact on Merseyside.
The Liverpool manager has had a second go at putting things right in his attack during the current transfer window, breaking the bank with the additions of Firmino and Christian Benteke, paying £29m ($45.5m) for the Brazilian forward and £32.5 to lure the Belgium international from Aston Villa.
Rodgers has hailed both additions, and claimed that the former Hoffenheim star can become Liverpool's answer to Sanchez.
"Firmino has looked good in training, as each week goes by he's getting fitter and stronger. He's a real worker. I've been impressed with his quality but his ability to work and press the game is one of the key things for us when we were bringing him in. And he really understands the pressure and the intensity. He's come from a league which is physical," Rodgers said to Liverpool Echo ahead of tonight's (24 August) game against Arsenal.
"But Firmino and Sanchez are aggressive; they want to score goals and are both team players so there are a lot of similarities.
"I think you see Sanchez and he's a world-class operator. When you have a player of that ilk they can become a real catalyst for your team."
Rodgers looks set to give the Brazil star his first start in a Liverpool shirt at the Emirates Stadium in an attack that still misses the presence of Daniel Sturridge – despite the campaign starting with back-to-back wins over Stoke and Bournemouth.
And the manager believes that as soon as the England international returns to action he will form a lethal partnership with Benteke.
"The owners here have been outstanding over the course of the summer in getting the likes of Christian in. He was a big target for us. We look at the likes of him and Daniel Sturridge to come back and hopefully it gives us back a real threat," he said.
"They've done great for us over the course of the summer and is important if you can get the players in you want it hopefully allow you to take the team forward."