Clinched for an initial £29m deal from Hoffenheim last Wednesday, Roberto Firmino has been signed by Liverpool and there is no doubt about it, it is a big deal for the Reds. There’s a lot of money involved for the talented player, but is he really what Liverpool need at the moment?
Firmino is a 23-year-old a Brazilian international who can play in an advanced attacking position and as a striker – although he is usually deployed supporting a striker. Obviously it is hard to tell what exactly the position Reds boss Brendan Rodgers wants to play Firmino in, but if he intends to use the South American to try and solve their striking crisis it will be a big mistake as he is not a capable striker.
Liverpool challenged and should have won the title in the 2013/14 season with Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge up front. Obviously the Merseysiders won’t be able to sign a player of Suarez’s ability this time around, but they do need to sign a striker that can be relied upon to score goals. The sale of Suarez coupled with Sturridge’s injury riddled season meant Liverpool lost nearly 50% of their league goals last term, with replacements such as Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert strikers very much in a different class altogether.
Firmino being relied upon to score the goals Liverpool need is a risk, considering he has only scored over 10 league goals in a season once in his entire career. That along with the fact it is his first Premier League season – it takes time to settle – makes it all a real worry.
However that is not to say that Firmino is not a top player, he will improve Liverpool in terms of creativity. Brendan Rodgers has good attacking midfielders at his disposal already in the shape of Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana, and with Firmino alongside that pair a very impressive attacking trio in a 4-2-3-1 formation is available.
It is the one up top in that formation that will be the problem for Liverpool and relying on Daniel Sturridge, a man who is capable of getting the goals Liverpool need, will be a huge risk give his fitness concerns.
Sturridge’s injury problems last season were well documented of course, the Liverpool striker only made a handful of appearances and relying on the former Chelsea man to stay fit for the entire campaign as the main striker will be naive.
A striker of real pedigree is what is needed, someone like a Salomon Rondon or Carlos Bacca. Either one of those two would be perfect as they will add a physicality the forward position, something which would work nicely with the finesse and creativity of Liverpool’s attacking midfielders.
Whilst Firmino can play up front he is not the out and out striker that Liverpool need, but will improve the Liverpool side in the creative areas.