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Liverpool Great Roberto Firmino Is The Most Cost-Effective Transfer Going



Liverpool Great Roberto Firmino Is The Most Cost-Effective Transfer Going

Once the Premier League season concludes and the transfer window opens, Firmino will become a free … [+] agent on the market.

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As the dust slowly settles and Premier League club Liverpool prepares for life without long-serving Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino, a new reality comes to light. Another team will sign a supremely talented, cut-price player this summer.

Such has been the understandably emotional outpour on Merseyside, the 31-year-old exiting Anfield on a free deal has gone somewhat under the radar. Once the season wraps up, interested parties—and there will be plenty—will only have to consider his wages regarding outlay. That’s for a name who has won everything (with Liverpool) in club soccer and, more importantly, still has more in the tank.

Firmino has bagged a Premier League winner’s medal, lifted the Champions League trophy, held the domestic FA Cup and Carabao Cup, and helped secure a Club World Cup, UEFA Super Cup, and Charity Shield victory at Liverpool, with the accolades racking up in his last five years. Halfway through an underwhelming campaign for the Reds, he decided it was the right juncture to pursue a fresh challenge, perhaps his last as a professional.

So far, there have been tentative links with various teams outside England. Over in Spain, Barcelona’s name has cropped up since Firmino announced his departure. Italian forces and Turkish Super Lig side Galatasaray have also reportedly shown an interest and could be outside bets. And there is always the potential for a move to the Middle East and Saudi Arabia, with the league seeking more star players to complement the high salaries offered.

Of course, Firmino does not represent the only steal on the market. Regarding talents poised to leave their teams on a free transfer, the list goes from Liverpool teammate Naby Keïta to central defender Milan Škriniar, midfielder Daichi Kamada and forward Marcus Thuram. Two noted, Škriniar and Kamada, are ready to join Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund in tow. And then, question marks remain over high-end options Lionel Messi, Marco Asensio, and Raphäel Guerreiro, whose contracts are winding down.

Attacking midfielder Asensio may be assessing his options elsewhere.

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There’s a case to make Firmino the best option from that bunch—for both sporting and financial reasons. Following his €33 million ($35 million) break from Hoffenheim, he’s provided either a goal or assist every two matches on average. But his evolution makes him more attractive. In coach Jürgen Klopp’s setup, he’s been a striker, a playmaker, and a tireless runner who can retrieve or receive the ball from deeper positions. His salary requirements don’t come close to Messi, too, having not even been the highest earner at Liverpool.

Even so, queuing suitors will know what they are getting. A grafter and flair player combined, Firmino is not a prolific scorer, despite wearing the treasured number nine shirt with Liverpool. Nor is he constantly available, going by his persisting injuries this campaign. For one reason or another, he’s no longer treasured in the Brazil setup, either, and followed his compatriots from afar during the last World Cup in Qatar.

Is he still a good option for leading candidate Barcelona? Yes. More importantly, he will almost certainly arrive if reports on him wanting the switch hold water. The Blaugrana needs to trim expenses by lowering its wage expenditure and finding bargain transfers. In this context, signing Firmino makes sense. Barcelona has also opted for more experienced and short-term solutions before—like Robert Lewandowski—and has gone on to win La Liga. So it will try and repeat the same trick.

It all hinges on the Maceio-born man, however. Speaking to ESPN Brasil following his final Anfield cameo (Portuguese), an emotional, tranquil Firmino didn’t give much away when asked about his next step. “I don’t know, man,” he said. “If not, I would say.”

One thing is for sure. With the new sporting director Jörg Schmadtke coming in, Liverpool will find solutions in his absence. Yet filling the Firmino void will be among his and the club’s most demanding assignments. His next employer, sure to be outside England, will understand why.

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