Cast your minds back to last summer. The days were longer, the weather was hot and the mood among all of us was a little cheerier than it is now in damp, cold March. However, there was one blot for Liverpool and Manchester City fans: the Raheem Sterling saga.
As one of English football’s most talented young players, the winger/attacking midfielder/striker/‘No.10’/wing-back was in demand. After weeks of media games and some pretty dirty tactics from his agent, Aidy Ward, his £50m move up the M62 came to fruition, and Man City fans breathed a heavy sigh of relief.
Meanwhile, Liverpool supporters were worried. After all, how do you replace such a talent?
Well, a large chunk of the incoming fee was sent to Hoffenheim for the signature of Roberto Firmino. Initially this looked to be a bit of a gaffe, but as the months have passed the Brazilian has eased into life in the Premier League, and is now flourishing. In fact, he’s been an UPGRADE on Sterling:
Also: Minutes per “Big Chance” created EPL 2015/16:
De Bruyne 259
— Dan Kennett (@DanKennett) March 2, 2016
That’s right, as the stats show, the 24-year-old has outperformed his predecessor in terms of chances created-per-minute, with the current Kop star managing to offer up a ‘big chance’ for a team-mate every 176 minutes in Premier League action… far more frequently than Sterling’s 832 minutes-per-clear-chance. Firmino has also scored more (6-5) and assisted more (6-2).
Granted, there are some caveats… such as Sterling being used as a winger, while Firmino has been deployed more centrally. However, it must be remembered that Manchester City have better players and have netted more frequently as a team. Firmino, meanwhile, has endured a change of manager and has had to adjust to a seemingly ever-changing Liverpool starting XI.