Roberto Firmino is a “better bet” for Liverpool’s showdown with Manchester City despite Diogo Jota’s hat-trick against Atalanta, according to John Barnes.

The Portuguese forward produced a delightful dinked finish to open the scoring atStadio di Bergamo after being handed a rare start ahead of Firmino.

He doubled his account when hetook down a searching Joe Gomez pass before smashing home a half-volley, giving the visitors a 2-0 lead heading in at the break.

A fine individual goal from Mohamed Salah put Liverpool 3-0 up two minutes into the second period, and Sadio Mane got himself on the scoresheet moments later when chipped the ball past Atalanta ‘keeperMarco Sportiello after being played in by his Egyptian team-mate.

Mane then turned provider himself as his delightful outside-of-the-foot pass found Jota bursting into the opposition half, with the 23-year-old then calmly rounding Sportiello before tapping into an empty net.

A man who arrived at Anfield from Wolves for £45 million ($58m) on September 19 is now being tipped to replace Firmino as the Reds’ first-choice central striker, but Barnes believes the Brazilian is still vital to Klopp’s plans.

The Liverpool legend expects Firmino to return to the fold when the reigning Premier League champions travel to the Etihad Stadium to face City on Sunday, as he told talkSPORT:“Jota scored a hat-trick, but that doesn’t mean he automatically goes into the team against Man City.

“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, thenyou can see Jota coming in.

“It’s the same with Thiago.If you play Man City you won’t necessarily play Thiago, you play Wijnaldum, Henderson and Fabinho who are much stronger defensively.

“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.

“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.

“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.

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