James Pearce has been speaking out about Liverpool’s plans for the future, specifically the club’s task of identifying long-term attacking alternatives to the club’s pedigreed front-three. Roberto Firmino was singled out as the player ‘most vulnerable’ to being integrated out.
Firmino, 29, is currently in his sixth season as a Liverpool player since signing from Hoffenheim for a £29 million [BBC] fee back in 2015.
Indeed, the Brazilian talisman is already considered as an Anfield legend, but there is no escaping from the fact his form has waned in recent seasons. His current total of just six goals in 36 appearances this season cannot be ignored.
Having achieved a career-high total of 27 goals in 2017/18, Firmino’s numbers dropped to 16 in 2018/19, while last term he managed just 12 goals. There’s a pattern here and one that cannot continue to dwindle.
Pearce on Firmino
And Pearce thinks because of Firmino’s gradual decline, the 45-time Brazil international is most at risk of falling out of favour in Jurgen Klopp’s star-studded forward trident.
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Speaking on The Athletic’s Ask Ornstein, Pearce said: “I think what we’ll see is a gradual evolution rather than drastic changes. We’ve seen that to a degree already with Jota coming in – and that will continue to happen.
“Firmino is certainly the most vulnerable of that kind of established front-three. Liverpool desperately need to go and get another elite attacking option this summer. I still think Mo Salah and Sadio Mane have a huge amount to offer.”
What RTK has to say
Pearce is absolutely bang on the money. Liverpool will not make a reactionary decision as a result of Firmino’s struggles this summer. Instead, the club will likely adopt a forward-thinking approach that can bring long-term sustainable benefits to the club’s attacking credentials.
Indeed, what Firmino offers is so versatile and complex that it’s difficult to find an alternative on the market. With that said, Liverpool could look to continue on from a successful approach that worked well earlier in the season.
Specifically, this will involve Diogo Jota taking the attacking strain and overall reliance off the shoulders of Firmino – who currently earns £180,000-a-week, per Spotrac.
A forward trident of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Jota could give Liverpool another dimension in transition and make them more unpredictable from the front.
Both Mane and Jota are natural left-wingers so either could fill in and be utilised as a central attacker.
Yes, Liverpool would benefit from a like-for-like replacement for Firmino – such as Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland – but given the financial stain on the current market, such an approach may not be viable in the coming months.
Solving Liverpool’s problems internally in the coming weeks could go a long way in establishing how the club are to act in summer window come to the end of the season.