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Jurgen Klopp has dropped Liverpool’s latest summer hint after explaining the surprise move



Roberto Firmino is set to leave Liverpool at the end of his contract as a decision must be made on Naby Keita’s future.

There will be few Kopite who won’t wish Roberto Firmino well as he prepares to leave Liverpool.

The forward has opted to retire at Anfield when his contract expires this summer. Firmino was offered new terms – but made the decision to leave after eight years of dedicated service.

The Brazil international is leaving the team as a modern Reds star. He will also continue to the disappointment of his manager.

“Yes, he told me. Surprised? Yes, a little bit, but I wasn’t surprised, it’s actually the normal thing to do,” said Jürgen Klopp before Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat at Bournemouth.

“He could go either way and it was one. And I have a lot of respect for that. It’s completely normal in this kind of long-term relationship that we have and Bobby has with the club and with most of the players and stuff like that, and obviously with the fans.

“He’s quite special and I loved the reception he got when he came on against United. He told me and all he said was, ‘Now I want to bring this wonderful story to a positive conclusion’. And fully committed, as anyone can imagine. And that’s all we need to know.’

Firmino still has a role to play in the last two and a half months of the season. Liverpool have a duel to qualify for the Champions League and Firmino will want to make sure that happens. The start to the end of the season can be poor, but his performance off the Bournemouth bench – albeit a failed one – shows that he is still much needed.

But with the spotlight already on the summer transfer window, a departure of the five oldest out-of-contract players has been confirmed. Four decisions remain to be made. James Milner admitted that at the ripe old age of 37 he was considering extending his career. If he comes to that conclusion, he will have to consider whether he should spend a ninth season on Merseyside or move to a club where more play is guaranteed – time is guaranteed.

Third-choice keeper Adrian will also have to make a similar decision, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will almost certainly leave after being dropped from previous Premier League squads.

Perhaps most intriguing was Naby Keita’s future. Six years after joining RB Leipzig (first year on loan), his time at Anfield has been enigmatic. Liverpool spent £52million on his services in 2017. It was a club record at the time. Sure, the Youtube clubs had followers of him in action drooling over what was to come. As of this writing, however, it looks like he will leave on a free transfer.

Keita was again absent from the squad for the Bournemouth defeat. It was the third consecutive game in which he did not play. A strike was cited as the reason he missed out on a 2-0 win over Wolves. But for Manchester United’s 7-0 and now Bournemouth win, Keita was not involved, despite being seen training for both matches. This suggests that he has no injuries.

Meanwhile, Arthur Melo – who has made just one appearance since joining Juventus on loan – has been in reserve for the first time since 1 October. Milner and Jordan Henderson were also on the bench, with teenagers Harvey Elliott and Stefan Bajcetic starting.

In fact, it was the biggest hint that Keita might be headed for the pastures. Although the Guinean international walks away with winners’ medals from the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup, Carabao Cup and Club World Cup, his time at Merseyside has been largely disappointing.

There was a period between January and February where Keita made four consecutive starts. Yet that culminated in a 3-0 defeat to Wolves. He has made just two appearances since then, being eliminated midway through the match in a 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace. When Liverpool take on Real Madrid in the Champions League Round of 16 second leg on Wednesday night, Keita will likely be back on the bench. Competition rules allow for 12 substitutes as Arthur was not entered for the feature.

Keita was signed for such a high sum – a club record at the time – destined to be the Reds’ midfield maestro in this type of encounter. Instead, it may not even come from the bank.

With an impending engine room overhaul, releasing Keita rather than giving him a new contract with a hefty salary would be the right thing to do, many would agree.