Liverpool will reportedly offer Roberto Firmino a new contract. It’s a move that will have consequences on their transfer plans, however.
“Been told that talks about a new contract beyond 2023 are progressing very well,” writes Plettenberg. “But no final steps at this stage. Player can really imagine to extend. Relation with [Jurgen] Klopp should be perfect.”
It’s a deal that makes sense, certainly. Firmino has been brilliant this season, scoring regularly and is Liverpool’s top scorer in the Premier League. Letting him go for free would feel like madness.
He’s an ‘elite’ player, after all, as Ian Wright puts it. Someone Liverpool should try to keep a hold of, even as he moves through his 30s.
But any new deal comes with consequences.
New Roberto Firmino contract could be on the way
Liverpool have Firmino, Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota, Luis Díaz and Darwin Nunez as forward options. All five of them will want first-team football every week but we can’t see Klopp switching to a front-five.
Assuming the 4-3-3 is the plan post-World Cup, two must sit out from the start every week. That was a ‘problem’ that would become a lot easier if Firmino left in the summer. Four players into three spots is a lot easier with rotation than five.
But even if Liverpool wanted five, they currently have the ‘wrong’ five. Salah is the only one who can play comfortably from the right, with Diaz at his best on the left and both Jota and Nunez splitting between the centre and the left.
In other words, Liverpool lack cover for Salah. They also lack a serious option out on the right should they just want to use the Egyptian centrally.
Firmino moving on would have freed up space. He only plays through the middle and his exit could have seen a right-sided option arrive next year. That would have brought more balance to the squad, with at least two forwards already playing through the middle.
Keeping the Reds’ no.9 essentially rules out any chance of signing a right-sided player – or any forward at all. There wouldn’t be space in the squad, nor room on the wage budget.
The flip-side is that no one arrives who could block Ben Doak or Kaide Gordon from the first-team. A role as Salah’s understudy waits for either of them, with no one else in their way. That could end up being a major blessing – and might be enough to forget about an unbalanced selection of forwards for now.
Keeping Firmino is no routine decision, then. It will carry consequences but with such talented young players at the club, maybe those consequences can be very positive.