Liverpool have made three signings this summer but lost one of their biggest players with Sadio Mane making a move to Bayern Munich early into the transfer window, and it has been feared in recent days that another forward could be set to follow the Senegal winger out the door at Anfield.
Roberto Firmino was named as a primary transfer target for Serie A giants Juventus in their attempts to rebuild their attacking threat this summer, with a bid reportedly rejected by the Reds, who are adamant that their Brazilian number nine will remain at the club this season.
Jurgen Klopp spoke out ahead of the Community Shield clash to reassure Kopites that the forward is part of his future plans, saying (via liverpoolfc.com): “Bobby is crucial for us, Bobby is [the] heart and soul of this team.”
“I am absolutely fine and, for me, there’s no doubt about his quality. All the rest, we will see how this year goes, but yes, he is essential for us.”
Despite the manager and the club making it clear that Firmino is not leaving this summer, it does put into perspective the fact that he will be out of contract in less than 12 months’ time as it stands, so who could replace one of the supporters’ most beloved players to currently wear Liverpool red?
One player who has been linked with a move to the six-time Champions League winners is PSV Eindhoven forward Cody Gakpo.
The versatile £38m-valued Dutch midfielder is not traditionally a centre-forward – making just 18 appearances in the position, in which he has scored eight goals – but that wouldn’t trouble Klopp in the slightest as he is renowned for trying out his players in different roles, with Mane spending the second half of last season playing through the middle with ease.
According to SofaScore, Gakpo is effective and experienced in the attacking midfield, left wing and centre-forward roles, a versatility which would be valuable if Firmino were to depart in the coming months.
Over 27 Eredivisie appearances last season, the 23-year-old scored 12 goals, delivered 13 assists and created 11 big chances, making 2.6 key passes and winning 5.5 duels per game and completing the majority of his dribbles (59%).
Gakpo has been the recipient of high praise for his performances, with former Netherlands midfielder Theo Janssen saying in an interview with NOS: “That boy (Gakpo) has everything. Fine feeling for the ball, a good through ball, dribbles and is strong between the lines.”
With that in mind, the 23-year-old could be the ideal Firmino heir that Klopp needs in order to continue his pursuit to win trophies with Liverpool. However, with the Brazil international looking likely to stay put, it could be an unlikely move for the time being, albeit one to consider next summer.