Liverpool’s replacement for Roberto Firmino right now is right under their nose. The Reds need to try something new as the Brazilian struggles.
Liverpool need to think about a replacement for Roberto Firmino. Technically, they need to think of two – one short-term, one long-term.
It’s easy to see why – Firmino had more bad touches against Leicester City (5) than he’s had goals and assists since Christmas (1 goal, 2 assists).
That stat also works if you use games against Newcastle United (4) and Brighton (4), instead.
So in short, Firmino isn’t providing his usual output, nor is he providing an output that Liverpool can rely on. The Reds’ attack is largely built around him – anything less than ‘excellent’ from Firmino and they struggle.
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But what Firmino provides is so versatile and complete that he’s difficult to replace. Who can be confident in front of goal, able to drop deep and link-up play, energetic enough to press hard, and capable of drifting across the entire forward line?
It’s incredibly difficult. Fortunately, Liverpool might have another player like that to help this season.
Sadio Mane. Is there a better short-term fit for that? Mane is one of the hardest-working Liverpool players and is comfortable anywhere in attack.
We think he might be the answer to Liverpool’s Firmino problem. The Reds don’t need to completely drop the Brazilian from their plans, of course, but they do need to lessen their reliance.
Mane could do that. He’s got the energy to press and create space as a forward, while he’s a great goalscorer.
Usually, there’s a problem with a plan like this. Mane is Liverpool’s left-winger, after all. Moving him creates a hole elsewhere.
But the returning Diogo Jota is a natural left-winger. He can quickly fill that void and complete an elite attack.
Firmino needs some time out to either rest of reset his form. Mane should be able to provide what Liverpool need in his stead, while Jota can complete the set.
Jota – Mane – Salah might be the way to go for the rest of the season.