Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino has reportedly informed the Reds of his contract decision today, with the Brazilian’s deal ending at the end of the season.
Ultimately, while it might be a difficult goodbye, Liverpool letting Roberto FIrmino depart Anfield at the end of his contract would be the right call.
According to Sky Germany’s Florian Plettenberg, Firmino has today told Liverpool that he will leave at the end of the season, deciding to move on after eight seasons with the Reds.
In truth, while it might be a surprise to some, the signs have been there for some time. How often, after all, does a player pen an extension this close to being able to depart for nothing?
Inside the final four months of his deal, Firmino had still not signed a new contract, and his agent said around a month ago that his future would be decided by the end of February.
His injury record over the past couple of campaigns (Transfermarkt has it down as 37 matches missed since the start of last season) means that it is the right thing for Liverpool to move on without him, too, meaning that the next generation under Klopp can come through.
And in Cody Gakpo— his signing from PSV in January being another sign that Firmino could leave — Liverpool may already have the Brazilian’s replacement.
Playing mainly through the center so far since arriving at Anfield, Gakpo has shown tendencies of being able to do what Firmino did at his best, even if there is still much to develop in his game.
In actual fact, Gakpo has looked closer to peak Firmino than Firmino has lately, with the departing number nine having adjusted his game as his physical levels have declined.
Liverpool should still sign another attacker to replace Firmino as another body in the forward line, but it was never going to be 100 per cent like-for-like when it came to finding a successor; that would have been an impossible ask because of the truly exceptional and unique levels that he reached.
While Gakpo appears to be being honed for the false nine role, maintaining that six-strong attacking unit that Klopp can call upon into next season should be a priority.
But losing Firmino, while a tough emotional call, is the right one. And Liverpool has already made sure it is prepared.