Roberto Firmino has hit the ground running in Saudi Arabia.
Ex-Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino scored twice as Al-Ahli romped to an 18-0 victory against Austrian minnows USV Stuhlfelden, who play in the second division of their home country. Former Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy will not have earned any easier money as he barely touched the ball.
Al-Ahli made 11 changes at half-time with their side already 10-0 ahead. Firmino opened the scoring on the fifth minute and added a second – and his team’s third – nine minutes later.
The route continued in the second period despite their star players watching on from the sidelines. Firmino is expected to score a hatful of goals this year playing alongside Ligue 1 and La Liga stalwart Ryad Boudebouz in a forward three. And he is also set to be joined by Manchester City winge Riyad Mahrez
The Algeria international withdrew from City’s pre-season tour of the Far East after a £30million fee was agreed between both clubs. And Mahrez will now travel to Saudi to complete a move that will see him sign a deal worth around £300,000-a-week.
Guardiola and his squad flew to Tokyo yesterday, with club sources insisting Mahrez had been given the green light to miss the trip.
The winger joined City from Leicester City in 2018 for a then club record £60m deal and despite struggling in his first year he went on to make 236 appearances.
Mahrez helped City to land win 10 major trophies, including the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup last season. But the winger struggled to hold down a starting place in Guardiola’s team towards the end of last season.
He scored a hat-trick against Sheffield United in the FA Cup semi-final, but was then axed for the showpiece game a few weeks later.
Mahrez also watched City’s Champions League final win over Inter Milan from the sidelines.
He held talks with Guardiola about his future at the Etihad and decided to join the ranks of players securing lucrative packages in Saudi Arabia.
City are expected to use the Mahrez money to try and persuade Barcelona to part with like for like winger Raphinha.