I’m not about to sit here and blow smoke up your arse; I’m no expert when it comes to German football in general or Liverpool’s newest signing Roberto Firmino specifically, but what I can tell you is that the Brazilian’s move to Merseyside sees the Reds making the right noises at a time when they’d normally struggle to be heard above a din that’s only going to get louder.
It’s one thing to say that you’re looking to bring in world class players, it’s another to actually do it — the market can be a bleak place for a club without the allure of Champions League football to offer or unlimited funds at their disposal, but the Reds fast-tracking a move for the highly rated 23-year old shows that maybe a corner has finally been turned for boss Brendan Rodgers and CEO Ian Ayre along with the rest of the increasingly infamous transfer committee.
After the excitement dies down a bit, the first question off the lips of every Reds supporter will be whether he’s an addition to the team or a replacement for someone? With Manchester City looking almost certain to meet our £50mil asking price for contract rebel Raheem Sterling, it looks like he’ll be arriving as the 20-year old attacker is going out the door. By all accounts the Brazilian is quite a bit further along in his development than the younger Englishman, and while the difference in price will have the bean counters smiling into their calculators, there’s still significant holes in our squad that need to be plugged that the ol’ switcheroo isn’t about to address.
That being said, Liverpool not only getting a significant signing done early, but making a substantial investment in a player like Firmino both in terms of transfer fee and wages could hint that Fenway Sports Group are figuring out just how this particular ball game is played while still maintaining a cautious, forward thinking approach to how money is spent. Despite the much deserved hype, I don’t think anyone is about to argue that Firmino is the finished article and that’s something that remains a rather large plus; by all accounts, he’s a player that has grown in leaps and bounds since moving to Germany four years ago and it doesn’t sound like he’s going to stop anytime soon.
Vine courtesy of @MrBoyWunder
“When I arrived at Hoffenheim I could already play football, but I’ve developed physically, technically and tactically since then,” he FIFA’s official website back in March. “The Bundesliga is one of the world’s best leagues. I had to adapt and improve to get by here, and although I’ve now reached a good level, there’s still more left to do. My own dissatisfaction is my biggest motivation.”
Drawing comparisons to fellow South Americans Luis Suarez and Alexis Sanchez, the boy from Maceió, isn’t the out and out goal-scorer that the Reds crave, but he’s no slouch either. Finding the net 47-times in 151-games for Hoffenheim, he averages about a goal every three matches, but seems to do much better under a manager with an eye for attacking football as evidenced by his 16-strikes in 33-outings in the 2013-2014 season under boss Markus Gisdol. He’s also doing it on the international stage as well, bagging four goals in nine appearances, including the winner in Brazil’s 2-1 victory over Venezuela as the Selecao advanced to the quarter-finals of the Copa America.
Which, in turn, leads to the second question of whether or not he can do it on a rainy Tuesday in in a little town called Nowhere? While all signs point very much towards the affirmative, we’ve seen more than one supposedly ready for prime time player falter after making the move to Anfield. Adam Lallana, who after an injury hit season is yet to show the Kop what he’s truly capable of doing, a struggling for confidence Dejan Lovren and a square Mario Balotelli to jam into the obviously round hole left by Suarez all came in with rather significant price-tags attached to them. Rewind to around 12-months ago and you’ll see phrases like “statement of intent” and “putting down a marker” attached to each and every one of those names — proof in triplicate that spending big doesn’t guarantee results.
A rumoured initial investment of £25mil plus add-ons and further fees seeing his final price rise to closer to £29mil, the Brazilian is set to become the Reds second most expensive player in their history, leaving little room to wriggle out of the clichéd phrases that come along when a club splashes out this much cash on one player. While quality as opposed to quantity is supposedly the battle cry for the coming transfer window, the 23-year old will become Liverpool’s fifth signing since the 6-1 defeat at the hands of Stoke City closed off the campaign, though he is the first one that’ll go up on the marquee.
That, of course, could make all the difference. World class players want to play with those of their kind and Firmino is quickly being slotted into that category and will have ears perked up all around — both on the Kop and around the league as well. His name is going to echo out not only to the fans that have been disillusioned with the clubs transfer policy, but to potential recruits as well. It’ll be a long and almost certainly cruel summer, but if this is the kind of advancement that came out of the much discussed end of the season review, then we’re heading down the right track with the whistle blowing.