Jurgen Klopp has five Liverpool players ready to replace Roberto Firmino in defining role
Roberto Firmino will leave Liverpool at the end of the season, but who is going to fill his boots?
It’s the end of an era at Liverpool, with Robert Firmino now expected to leave Anfield at the end of the season.
The popular Brazilian will be best remembered for playing the central role in the Reds’ trophy-winning attacking trio alongside Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, that has gone on to define Jurgen Klopp’s reign on Merseyside.
But with news ʙʀᴇᴀᴋɪɴɢ on Friday that ‘Bobby’ is to be a Red no more, come the summer, who can fill the void left in that centre forward role that he used to knit together everything that was great about Liverpool’s attack?
Here we have a look at Jurgen Klopp’s options from his existing squad.
Summer signing Nunez has not been without his critics since joining the Reds in a big-money move, but the more games he plays the better he has looked in this evolving team.
Recently, the ex-Benfica man has had some joy operating down the left, but with Luis Diaz likely to be favoured in that position, could Nunez make a proper name for himself as the Reds’ new number nine? He certainly has the goal-scoring prowess and physical ability to play the role, but it would be a departure from the more cultured Firmino role that supporters have become accustomed to over the years. Make no mistake, the Uruguayan will be vying for the spot.
If there’s one thing Klopp loves it’s versatility in his forwards. Portuguese hit-man Jota gives him that in spades, again operating either down the left or in and around the six-yard box. Jota’s pedigree and penalty box instincts make him a great choice for the role and with the right players around him, at the very least he could be the short-term fix that gets Liverpool back on track. Providing he can stay fit of course.
With the Reds a little goal-shy of late, there have been calls from some quarters to move the Egyptian King out of his favoured right-hand side berth and into the middle. There’s no denying he can perform the role, having played there plenty of times before when asked by Klopp but the majority of his incredible 176 goals have come from that right side. With so many other options to chose from, we don’t see Salah taking that central position of Firmino’s any time soon.
The Dutch forward enjoyed a fine World Cup before completing a sᴜʀᴘʀɪsᴇ move from PSV Eindhoven to Liverpool at the start of the January transfer window. He found the going a little tough early doors but now appears to be finding his feet in a new league. The 24-year-old is best known in Holland for playing on the left-hand side but has recently been deployed as the central striker by Klopp, yielding two goals of his own.
His tendency to drop deep for the ball has led to some suggestions that he is being developed as the natural successor to Firmino, but with competition tough, it remains to be seen just how many successive opportunities he will be given in that role while the Reds try to ʜᴜɴᴛ down fourth place in the Premier League and secured Champions League qualification for next season in the process. Certainly an option in that role, he may have to do the business pretty much immediately if he is to make the job his own from next season.
Youngster Carvalho arrived at Anfield in the summer with a solid reputation, having starred for Fulham in their Championship title-winning team. The 20-year-old was deployed as a number 10 for the West London side, acting as a link man to lethal strikers like Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Since joining the Reds however, his game time has so far been fairly limited, with 18 appearances in all competitions returning three goals, including a last-gasp winner against Newcastle United. But with Firmino out of the picture could this be the moment where Carvalho steps up to fill the breach? Competition looks tough and he might need an exceptional pre-season in order to convince Klopp that he is the way to go.