Liverpool already have their next Roberto Firmino but he'll have to change position


Liverpool already have their next Roberto Firmino but he'll have to change position

Luis Díaz can be Liverpool’s next Roberto Firmino and a position change would do it. The Reds will be searching.

Liverpool have stumbled upon an answer this season that they already had. It’s arguably one they didn’t want, however.

The question was how you make Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez play together. Putting Nunez up top means he’s making runs in behind all game and keeping things narrow. That doesn’t suit Salah, who wants to run into that space himself and struggles when he’s stuck out wide all game.

Throw in a left-winger and suddenly Liverpool really struggle to build a functioning attack. There are three forwards on the pitch, all hoping to make similar runs. The answer, then? Roberto Firmino. As it usually is.

Jurgen Klopp has found that playing Salah on the right and Nunez on the left keeps them out of each other’s way. Firmino then does what Firmino does best – making the game easier for everyone else. He drops into space, pulls defenders away and allows the other two to have all the space they want in the middle.

This has been how Liverpool have played under Klopp since the beginning. Firmino has been a massive part of that, selflessly moving around the pitch to pull defenders away from the areas the Reds want to attack. Only, they tried to move away from that this summer.

Liverpool spent massively on Nunez and quite clearly wanted to play with a more traditional striker. Then a poor run of form happened and they’re back using Firmino as a centre-forward. And winning games.

So here’s the big problem – Firmino is out of contract this summer. He’s 31, too, so even if he does get a new deal, he’s not going to be at the top of his game for much longer. Liverpool just can’t rely on him going forward but at the same time, they can’t get things to work without him.

A new Firmino is vital, then, and Liverpool might have one.

Liverpool have their next Roberto Firmino

Firmino is energy, technical skill and a desire to float about the pitch, popping up wherever he might be most dangerous. We think Liverpool might have that player in Luis Díaz.

Díaz, of course, is a left-winger and an outstanding one. We do wonder if his future is more central, however, and with a bit for freedom to do whatever he wants. After all, he’s got the skill in tight areas, can press like Firmino and is dangerous no matter where he is.

Firmino, too, changed position to become a False 9. He was an attacking midfielder who sometimes played as a striker at Hoffenheim. Klopp transformed him into a striker – albeit one who played a lot like an attacking midfielder.

Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

We think Díaz could have a similar evolution. The key thing about Liverpool’s wide players – if we pretend that Nunez is staying there – is that they both want to be inside the channels or up against centre-backs. Díaz, then, is perfectly comfortable drifting back out wide to rotate with them.

He can do that on either flank, too – and we think that could be incredibly dangerous. The amount of movement there would leave Liverpool with an attack that’s near-impossible to mark.

Hopefully, this is something Klopp is willing to try when club football resumes. Nunez is playing so well out wide that a change for Díaz could keep him there – and provide Liverpool an answer to their upcoming Firmino question.

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