Dominic Solanke has detailed how Roberto Firmino is helping guide him through the process of learning to play as a striker for Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool.
Despite only turning 20 in September, Solanke has established himself as a valued member of Klopp’s first-team squad during his first season with the club.
The forward has 11 Premier League appearances for the Reds under his belt and also made his senior international debut as a substitute during England’s draw with Brazil at Wembley last month.
Klopp handed Solanke his first top-flight start at Stoke City in late November and was duly rewarded with an impressive and mature display from the youngster, which helped his team claim a 3-0 victory.
A major feature of the Reds’ attacking play that evening was how comfortably Solanke dovetailed with Firmino, and the U20 World Cup winner has revealed that, as well as learning from the No.9 at Melwood, he also gratefully receives in-match advice from his teammate.
“In the games it’s good to speak. He’ll tell me, like he did when we played at Stoke - he always gave me little movements and stuff that I needed to do to help us both,” Solanke told Liverpoolfc.com.
“I think it’s really important to watch the forwards in your team, especially because he’s been here for a while now so he knows how the team play. It’s good to watch him and see what he does for the team, how he helps the team, and when I’m in that position try to fit in and follow what he does.
“He’s very technical. He’s got a lot of technique and his movement’s good, his finishing is good. He’s always there to poach, really.”
The pair’s link up in the Potteries was no accident, either.
“It was a bit of both, really,” Solanke replied, after being asked whether his partnership with Firmino against Stoke came naturally or if they had worked on it in training.
“Obviously I know what sort of player he is by watching him in a lot of games, so I know what his strengths are and I try to work off that.”
Klopp has regularly praised Solanke throughout the season and showed his trust in the No.29 by starting him in last Sunday’s Merseyside derby at Anfield.
For his part, Solanke is taking huge enjoyment from playing for the manager and being part of a squad packed with high-quality players.
Solanke continued: “I think you always learn by playing with great players. Looking up to all the players in this squad, there’s a lot of fantastic forwards that I can learn from and that definitely helps my game. The manager’s helped me as well, he always gives me feedback when it’s due.
“I think at first, you don’t know exactly what each manager wants from his players but I think you get to know quite quickly when he’s helping you and showing you and you’re learning from the other players, too.
“It’s nice when a manager has faith in you and I was really pleased to start the Everton game. I knew it was a very big game from when I first came here. Obviously it’s a massive derby.”
However, while insisting that regular exposure to Premier League and Champions League football with the Reds has already enhanced his ‘all-round game’, Solanke is determined to get better still.
“I think when you start to play in one of the best leagues in the world, you learn a lot [about] the speed of the game and what you need to do to cope with it,” he noted.
“There’s always room for improvement. I’m still young, so there’s a lot I need to improve in my game. Obviously I need to try and get some goals as soon as possible, really, to try to help the team with that.”