After a disappointing campaign, Liverpool have been active in the transfer window as they look to bounce back and challenge for a place in the Premier League’s top four. Nathaniel Clyne, James Milner and Danny Ings have all joined the club this summer but supporters are most interested in Brazilian Roberto Firmino, who signed for an estimated fee of £29 million from Hoffenheim.
The 23-year-old is widely regarded as one of Europe’s hottest prospects and was linked with Manchester United but the Reds got their man. Brendan Rodgers has been interested in the Brazilian for a while but finally made the move to acquire the forward after his impressive performances in the Copa America and the second half of the Bundesliga season. Firmino signed a five-year deal with the club and, if he lives up to expectation, will more than pay off his hefty looking price tag.
Firmino scored 47 goals in 151 matches for Hoffenheim and will offer Liverpool an attacking presence from midfield. The Brazilian has a unique knack for taking up dangerous positions and finding space in front of the 18-yard box and is more than capable of pulling the trigger from long range. Last season, the Reds suffered from a lack of goals and Rodgers will be expecting the Brazil to contribute with a few strikes throughout the upcoming campaign.
However, it’s not just goals that the Brazilian will bring to Anfield. He’s exceptionally quick and is very efficient with the ball at his feet. His is rarely dispossessed and, when he does lose the ball, he will buy into Rodgers’s hardworking philosophy and try and regain possession. Unlike some players, he’s extremely unselfish and understands that the club is bigger than an individual. In terms of his work ethic, it’s one of the major reasons why Liverpool were willing to fork out almost £30 million.
His versatility will have also played a key role in Rodgers’s decision to bring him to Anfield. If Liverpool are required to switch their formation, Firmino is adaptable and can play in a number of positions. The 23-year-old has played across the midfield, as well as a brief stint up front for his native Brazil. Firmino really is the complete package and Reds supporters should feel blessed to have such a promising talent at the club. The Brazilian racked up 10 assists in the 2014/15 campaign, which is more than any Liverpool player managed.
Although he can play in a number of roles, there is no doubt that his best position is in the number 10 slot. Throughout the past two seasons, Firmino has been involved in 44 goals from midfield – only Real Madrid’s James Rodriguez has been directly involved in more. In the same timeframe, Coutinho and Sterling combined have scored just two goals more than their new team mate. Finally, in the past three seasons, no Bundesliga player completed more through-balls than the Brazilian – a statistic that shows his vision and creativity.
Liverpool supporters are excited at the prospect of Firmino linking up with Philippe Coutinho behind Reds striker Daniel Sturridge and rightly so. The two Brazilians should form a great working relationship behind the England international and could cause problems for the Premier League’s best defences this term. Firmino and Coutinho have played together at international level in the past and there’s a clear understanding and chemistry between the two. Liverpool’s two attacking midfielders would have free reign to support Sturridge in attack, while the likes of Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Lucas Leiva maintain a high work rate in midfield.
Liverpool supporters must be patient with the youngster if they are to get the best out of their talented Brazilian duo. In the short term, Firmino may be reckless and naive as he adapts to the Premier League. But give him time, and he will come good. Some Brazilians struggle to adjust to England’s top flight for various reasons, whether it’s the physicality, the pace or the league simply doesn’t suit their abilities. But the early signs are positive for Liverpool and the 23-year-old looks like he could go on to become an incredibly influential player at Anfield for the foreseeable future.