Barnes says Jota will NOT automatically replace Firmino for City trip

Liverpool legend John Barnes insists Diogo Jota will NOT automatically replace Roberto Firmino for trip to Man City after his Champions League hat-trick and claims summer signing will feature against ‘more open’ teams

  • John Barnes thinks Roberto Firmino will replace Diogo Jota at Manchester City
  • Firmino was benched on Tuesday night with Jota scoring a hat-trick in Bergamo
  • Jota has been sensational since completing his £41million move to Liverpool
  • Barnes defended Firmino’s goal-scoring record, saying there is more to his game

Diogo Jota will not replace Roberto Firmino for Liverpool’s trip to take on Manchester City on Sunday says John Barnes, despite the Portuguese forward’s hat-trick against Atalanta.

Jota, a £41million summer signing from Wolves, has exploded into life at Anfield, scoring seven goals in 10 goals, including his sublime treble in the Champions League on Tuesday night.

Jurgen Klopp started Jota ahead of Firmino in Italy, alongside Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, and his impressive performance in Bergamo has left the German boss with a dilemma ahead of the trip to the Etihad.  

John Barnes does not think Diogo Jota will automatically start ahead of Roberto Firmino for Liverpool’s trip to Manchester City

Firmino was left on the bench as Jota scored a hat-trick in Liverpool’s win over Atalanta

But Barnes, who made over 400 appearances for the Reds, believes Firmino will come back into the team to play Pep Guardiola’s side because his defensive attributes 

‘Jota scored a hat-trick, but that doesn’t mean he automatically goes into the team against Man City,’ Barnes told talkSPORT on Wednesday.

‘I think who plays depends on what the games are and who they’re against and how that team plays.

‘Against Man City, where you’re not going to have as much possession, maybe Firmino will be a better bet. You need a player like Bobby Firmino to not only get hold of the ball but also do his defensive work. 

‘If you’re playing a game against Atalanta or Leeds, a more open team, they you can see Jota coming in. 

‘I think Klopp will chop and change this season, and I don’t think it’s a reflection on who he feels is better, it’s more about who they are playing against.’

Barnes thinks Firmino’s defensive attributes will be needed when Jurgen Klopp’s side take on their title rivals on Sunday

Criticism has been levelled at Firmino over his lack of goals in comparison to his attacking partners, despite his superb pressing ability and link-up play.

The Brazilian hit 12 goals last season, including just one at Anfield, and has one goal in 11 games so far this campaign but Barnes insists there is more to his game than just finding back of the net.

‘Will Firmino’s lack of goals cost him? Well, the reason why Mane and Salah score as many goals as they do is because of the way Bobby plays,’ he added.

‘Now, if Jota plays maybe Salah and Mane, although they both scored last night, might not score as many goals.

‘So I don’t think goalscoring is necessarily what he’s in the team to do. As much as people may say, “Firmino is Liverpool’s main striker”, the main goalscorers are Mane and Salah and Firmino gives much more than that.

‘If we can finish 20-odd points ahead of everyone else and he doesn’t score goals, I’ll be having that all day long, and so would Jurgen!’.

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