Roberto Firmino is definitely a huge part of Jurgen Klopp’s system over at Liverpool. No one in the world of football can quite do what the Brazilian does for the Reds: he’s hardworking, puts the team first, supports their build-up and at the end of the day, bangs in the goals when necessary.
That much is visible from his career tally of 70 goals and 55 assists for Liverpool in a total of 212 games. But at 28 and fast approaching his 30s, even Firmino will soon need someone to take over – or at the vest least share – the mantle.
So for that reason, here are three players Liverpool should target to support Firmino: one who could outright replace him now, one veteran to serve as back-up and one understudy to become the Firmino of the future.
The problem with finding a suitable replacement for Firmino is basically in the first couple of sentences of this article: no forward in the world can really replicate the Brazilian’s contribution to Liverpool or do it in a similar manner, and including Lionel Messi or Harry Kane on the list seems like too big of a reach.
But Dybala just might be the next best thing. The Argentine is 26, so even a bit younger, can play both as a centre-forward or in a deeper role as a second-striker, as per Transfermarkt’s database for the games they have covered, and is prolific in banging in the goals and linking up with his teammates.
The fact that he has already scored seven goals and assisted three in the ongoing campaign is proof enough of that. Dybala may not be the exact replica of Firmino but no one is and the Argentine might be as close to him as one can be.
Not to mention that Klopp could potentially mould him into the profile he wants to have in the squad.
The second player, and interestingly enough the second Argentinian, on the list is Inter Milan’s 22-year-old forward, Martinez.
Even though no one really paid that much attention to him just a year ago – when he could only muster nine goals in 35 games – now he is quite a hot prospect over in Serie A. After all, he has already netted 11 goals and three assists in the ongoing campaign, scoring five goals in his last four Champions League clashes as well.
Needless to say, he’s fully emerged to the scene but is still young enough to develop even further.
Even though he is currently very much a starter at his club, a chance to play for the European champions and current leaders of the Premier League could no doubt be an interesting prospect for the young forward.
There are not many names in the world of football that would be willing to sacrifice their own individual glory for that of the team as quickly as Mandzukic.
He may not really be the perfect Firmino replacement but he’s a workhorse that will be more than happy to both play second-fiddle – seeing how he’s going towards the twilight of his career – and do the dirty work for his gaffer, if needs be.
And seeing how he’s 33 already and coming as an out-of-favour player with only a year left on his contract, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the Reds might get a discount as well.