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Roberto Firmino is about to play vital transfer assist to end glorious Liverpool spell



Theo Squires evaluates the departure of Roberto Firmino who will leave Liverpool in the summer when his contract expires

When Steven Gerrard decided to leave his beloved Liverpool in 2015, the legendary Reds captain would later admit that his decision was influenced by Brendan Rodgers who only used him as a substitute against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu last November .

Eight years later, and now that Roberto Firmino has told Jurgen Klopp that he will leave Anfield in the summer at the end of his contract, one wonders if history is repeating itself.

Admittedly, Liverpool have yet to travel to the Bernabeu, which will be later this month. But the Reds’ last game, a 2-0 win over Wolves, may have influenced his thinking in a similar way.

And while a routine mid-week win against the West Midlands outfit at Anfield certainly doesn’t lack the clout of a Champions League away trip to the Spanish giants, it nonetheless highlighted the Brazilian’s current position in the hierarchy at Anfield and the reality that surrounds him waits if instead he decided to sign an extension. Diogo Jota has been selected to start in attack with Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez on either flank. And when it took Liverpool until the 73rd minute to break the deadlock, they had to watch from the touchline.

Klopp would make a switch after Virgil van Dijk opened, sending Cody Gakpo for Jota. While primarily an inverted left winger for former club PSV Eindhoven, he would play a pivotal role in Firmino’s fake nine role, as has been the case for most of his short career until present with the Reds since his arrival in January. It looks like the Dutchman is groomed as his long-term replacement. Only in the 89th minute did the Brazilian receive the call from the bench. Replacing Nunez, the game was already won and his impact was minimal. However, that is his role now and when Luis Diaz returns from injury, his playing time could be further restricted.

Liverpool have however spent the last 12 months revamping an old attack, signing Salah and Jota to new contracts while signing Diaz, Nunez and Gakpo. The bottom four were signed for a combined initial fee of £178m, which will inevitably rise with add-ons. Everyone continues to fuel 31-year-old Firmino’s playing time. Their early years are still ahead of them and they are the future of the Reds.

Firmino is a Liverpool legend, there is no doubt. He’s won it all since joining the Reds from Hoffenheim for £29million in 2015, the same summer Gerrard left.

He helped the Reds end their 30-year drought to be crowned champions of England. European champions in 2019, he also scored the goal that saw the club crown themselves world champions for the first time that year.

With 107 goals and 71 assists in 353 appearances to date, with Liverpool’s struggles this season making further silverware highly unlikely, the 31-year-old will at least try to increase those totals until the end of his career at Anfield in the Premier League. summer.

In reality, where he was once part of an untouchable triumvirate alongside Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, and was synonymous with Klopp’s great Reds squad, he has declined in recent years. Goals are slowly starting to dry up and the striker manages to keep scoring in near double figures, and appearances and appearances have also dropped since then.

An ever-present as Liverpool won the Premier League in 2019-20, that season was the first in which Firmino’s goal-scoring return was widely criticised. Klopp responded by signing Jota from Wolves in the summer of 2020, with the Portuguese ensuring the Brazilian had real competition for a starting role for the first time.

He was plagued with injuries in 2021/22 as the Reds struggled to an unprecedented four-fold. He has made just 20 Premier League appearances and started only 10 times. Meanwhile, only 17 of his 35 appearances in all competitions have come from the start.

The striker has at least fared better this season. He played 26 games, 16 from start, and was a regular before picking up an injury during Liverpool’s mid-season training camp in Dubai. He now has nine goals and four assists and is on track to deliver his best goalscoring season since 2018/19.

It was initially thought from this form that the Brazilian still had a future at Anfield and the Reds would fight to keep him at the club. But goals aren’t everything, as Klopp pointed out in October.

“Bobby is in a very good moment,” said the German ahead of his side’s clash with Man City, having seen a brace in the 7-1 away win against Rangers last time out. “I’m really happy for him, really happy for him. “While it’s clearly not the best time we’ve ever had for us, it helps that these guys at least still know where the goal is…Look, in our situation, no one has played the season they should have played.

“Yes, Bobby is like that in terms of numbers, but now [against Rangers] he scored two and two against Bournemouth. Bobby is an outstanding player, I don’t think anyone has said that more than me.

“But it’s true, it’s not like Bobby has been to every game. So now let’s take the numbers and say, “This is the best start to the season.” That might be statistically true, but we as a team haven’t had the best start of our lives and there are several reasons for that. “But obviously this moment helps to score twice now… Nothing has really changed for Bobby. Bobby always played when he was fit in this team, he always contributed when he was fit, all that stuff. But we have to do it again and again.

Firmino would start against Man City and, with Jota and Diaz both long-term absent, would go on to make 10 successive appearances en route to the World Cup, although that availability was not enough to earn him a Brazil call-up. Meanwhile, as he opened the scoring in a 3-1 win over Southampton in Liverpool’s last game before half-time, a contract extension looked likely.

But that mid-season injury, which would have sidelined him for two months, means his Saints goal remains his only goal since Rangers’ double more than four months ago. Meanwhile, that game against Southampton in November remains his last start for Klopp’s side.

Had Firmino remained fit and continued to be without Jota and Diaz, the prospect of an Anfield exit could be much more worrisome. However, his own time on the sidelines allowed Nunez to further integrate and gain prominence, with Gakpo reinvented as a false nine after his arrival.

Fit again, Jota is Liverpool’s fourth center forward at best. Both returned as substitutes in last month’s win over Everton, with the Portuguese in first place despite a long injury absence.

The two featured both sides of the hour in the 2-0 away win at Newcastle and the 5-2 home loss to Real Madrid. Since then, Jota has started against Crystal Palace and Wolves, with Firmino staying on as a substitute. Their respective roles at Anfield, both available again, are clear. Meanwhile, that falling goal return means a team player as good as Firmino isn’t the player you turn to first to win a game – although David Fairclough is the only man in the game. history of the Reds to win their 13th goal on aggregate. The goals passed Bank. With Diaz returning later this month, he’ll likely only fall lower in the pecking order.

To further complicate his chances, Firmino can only do his best in the middle, unlike any other striker at Anfield. Where Liverpool once built their squad around the Brazilian, they now have to reshuffle everyone just to accommodate him.

Like the favorite shirt we all own, which is just gathering dust in the closet, a bit too tight to slip into post-pandemic, Klopp should have made a reckless decision on the striker’s future . The German has often been accused of being too sentimental with his players. Perhaps Firmino had been one he had been reluctant to let go. In any case, today’s news confirmed the way forward for player and manager.

Like Gerrard before him, a shrinking role clearly doesn’t appeal to Firmino. If he passes away this summer, he will be with pain in the hearts of all parties. But now is the time for a split and it seems only fair that the Brazilian wants to hold his head high on his own terms, with one final chapter of his Liverpool legend still to be written ahead of a summer departure.

Moreover, his departure will at least deduct his considerable salary from the ever-increasing wage bill and could even save Liverpool from a transfer frenzy in their next chapter as they build the next generation of Klopp squads. The end of the era, but fittingly a final Firmino assist, so to speak.




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