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Toon star Joe standing Firm on comparison with Reds ace.

Byline: CIARAN KELLY Newcastle United writer ciaran.kelly02@reachplc.com @CiaranKelly_

A FORWARD born in eastern Brazil who got his big break in Germany with Hoffenheim before eventually moving to the Premier League. Sound familiar? We l l , there are plenty of parallels to be drawn between Joelinton and Roberto Firmino, who will come up against each other on Saturday when Newcastle United play Liverpool at Anfield.

Neither are centre forwards in the traditional sense.

Joelinton and Firmino found it tricky, initially, adjusting to their new lives in Europe. Both moved to the Bundesliga and then the Premier League at roughly the same ages, commanding similar fees when they went to England.

The pair even scored their first three Bundesliga goals with their left foot, right foot and head.

Yannick Obenauer, the former strength and conditioning coach at Hoffenheim, is one of the few people to have worked with both players, and certainly sees the physical and mental similarities, too.

"When working with a resistance band, Joelinton was extremely strong. When sprinting, while I held the resistance band behind him, I had to hold on to it tightly or else he would have just run away!" he previously told The Chronicle.

Roberto inspiration but on we're don't comparison. Joelinton "He's not only got a strong physical appearance but mentally as well. He combines elements of Brazilian football with diligence. In that sense, he reminds me a lot of when I worked with Roberto Firmino."

While Joelinton sees Firmino as an inspiration - regularly exchanging WhatsApp messages with his compatriot - he does not welcome the direct comparison. Joelinton does not necessarily mean that in a negative way - far from it - but he wants to carve his own path in football and it is easy to see why.

is an to me ... the pitch different. I like the "They've been making that comparison since I arrived at Hoffenheim," he said on the day he was unveiled. Both players are represented by the Rogon agency, who have long-standing links with Hoffenheim. Joelinton added: "As he was leaving Hoffenheim for Liverpool, I was arriving there from Brazil. He came over at a very young age as well, so there was always the comparison made at the club by some fans. But I like to leave it to one side; it's never held me back nor does it affect my mentality.

"Roberto has his qualities, he's a great player. He's an inspiration to me given what he's achieved at Liverpool, a Champions League winner. But I think on the pitch we're different players. I'm following my story, Roberto is making his. I don't like the comparison; it doesn't change anything about my game."

Since he first came to Europe, in 2015, Joelinton has had to field questions about Firmino who, when he left Hoffenheim for Liverpool, was already a senior Brazil international.

That creates a lot of hype and pressure when you are adapting to a new culture and climate as a young man, and Joelinton found life in Germany difficult initially.

It was only when he went out on loan, to Rapid Vienna, that the striker began to find his feet under the radar.

From learning German to spending time in the video analysis room figuring out the kinds of runs he needed to make, it was an invaluable two-year spell.

Joelinton returned to Hoffenheim a different player and soon caught the attention of Newcastle's recruitment team, with managing director Lee Charnley (pictured left) alerted to a number of 'outstanding' scouting reports.

The chance to strut his stuff at Anfield is something that Joelinton will have dreamt of not so long ago yet, on Saturday, he will go toe to toe with Firmino.

Joelinton was strong. When I held band I on or only physical but the Joelinton said Roberto is an inspiration to me ... but on the pitch we're different. I don't like the comparison Joelinton

CAPTION(S):

Joelinton celebrates scoring in Germany. Left, in action for the Magpies

Roberto Firmino in action for Liverpool and (inset left) for Hoffenheim
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:3BRAZ
Date:Sep 11, 2019
Words:676
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