Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino has labelled former teammate Philippe Coutinho "phenomenal" after the Brazilian inspired his country to a 5-0 win over Bolivia in their opening 2022 World Cup qualifying clash.
Firmino scored twice as the Selecao got their campaign underway in sensational style, but it was Coutinho - who has forced his way back into Barcelona's plans under new head coach Ronald Koeman - who shone brightest, sealing victory with Brazil's fifth and final goal.
The 28-year-old spent last season on loan at Bayern Munich after his move to Barcelona from Liverpool went sour, but Firmino told FIFA.com after the game that his international colleague remains a magician, capable of conjuring up passages of play that others can't.
"You always have to watch replays of his plays to understand what he’s done. He’s an unbelievable player. It was a pleasure to play with him at Liverpool, and it’s a pleasure to play with him for the Selecao.
"I’m a huge fan of his. He’s one of the very best players in the world."
Firmino also spoke of his friendship and admiration for Alisson Becker - who plays alongside him for both Liverpool and Brazil - who is currently sidelined with a shoulder injury, noting he remains number one in his mind ahead of Manchester City stopper Ederson.
"For me, he’s the number one. I’m not just saying that because he’s my team-mate," Firmino said of Alisson. "The things he does on the pitch are incredible. He’s already done a great job for the Selecao.
"And off the pitch, he’s a sensational guy. He’s a great person, a great friend, someone I get on with really well."
The 29-year-old forward also confirmed that he 'wants to be the player Brazil can rely on' up front, with a successor to Ronaldo's legendary number nine throne yet to be found over the past decade and a half.