Roberto Firmino: What happened to the 12 PL stars Liverpool man praised in 2018?

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Three years is an awfully long time in football terms, especially in the ultra-competitive landscape of the Premier League.

Back in 2018, Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino was asked in an interview with GOAL to name who - for him - was the best player in the English top-flight at the time.

The Brazilian, though, wouldn't commit to a single individual. In fact, by the end of his answer, he had mentioned no less than 12 individuals!

"We have great players in English football, it’s hard to select one as the outright best," argued Firmino. "That’s why it’s the most popular league with many quality teams," he continued before reeling off the players who stood out most for him. 

It's fair to say that of the dozen men highlighted by Firmino there has been a mixed bag of fortunes over the past three seasons. Here is a look at how each club's selected players have fared in that period.

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ENTER GIVEAWAY

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Liverpool: Mohamed Salah

Perhaps surprisingly, Firmino only named one of his Anfield teammates in his selections. A Premier League, Champions League and pair of Golden Boot triumphs since though prove that the Egyptian richly deserved his mention.

Manchester City: Gabriel Jesus, Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan

There is more success among Firmino's picks with this trio of Man City representatives. De Bruyne remains one of the Premier League's top players, while Gundogan was the team's top scorer in the division last year.

Jesus might not quite have developed into the superstar that many had predicted but has still bagged plenty of goals as part of several Premier League triumphs.

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Manchester United: Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku

It's been an up-and-down few years for French World Cup winner Pogba. He remains a Manchester United player, despite plenty of speculation linking him with a move away from Old Trafford. His form has been far from consistent in recent seasons, although his four assists in last weekend's Premier League opener against Leeds show exactly what Pogba is capable of when he is at his best.

Lukaku returns to the English top-flight this season, albeit as a Chelsea player. After his form dipped at United in 2019, he was offloaded to Inter Milan. The powerhouse forward quickly found his feet at the San Siro, however, and his impressive goalscoring record there over the past two seasons was enough to convince Roman Abramovich to part with close to £100m to bring the 28-year-old back to Stamford Bridge earlier this month.

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Chelsea: Eden Hazard and Willian 

This is where Firmino's strike rate start to go badly downhill. Hazard no longer plies his trade in England, having swapped Stamford Bridge for an injury-marred spell at Real Madrid. It has not been an enjoyable few years for the Belgium star.

Willian is still Premier League-based, although truth be told many Arsenal fans seem to wish he wasn't! Firmino's fellow Brazilian couldn't be further away from being one of the league's best at present.

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Tottenham: Harry Kane, Moussa Sissoko and Mousa Dembele

England captain Kane is the most-wanted man in the Premier League at present, with Man City expected to offer Spurs a British-record transfer fee for his services before the end of the summer transfer window. A multiple-time Golden Boot winner, Firmino was bang on the money with his selection of Kane at the time - and remains so today. 

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Sissoko or Dembele. The latter departed for China in 2019, while Sissoko is expected to leave Tottenham shortly - aware that he is surplus to requirements in north London.

Read more: Premier League 2021/22: Fixtures, Results, Odds, Ball, Tickets And Everything You Need To Know

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Arsenal: Mesut Ozil

The Turkish playmaker never really found the consistency that Arsenal fans had always hoped to see from him during his time at the Emirates. Undoubtedly, a fantastic talent at his peak, Ozil's time at Arsenal will ultimately be considered a disappointment. The 32-year-old left the club on a free transfer in January, having been left out of the team's 2020/21 Premier League squad altogether. 

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