Liverpool news Roberto Firmino, the wrong transfer and how Liverpool staggered Jurgen Klopp PremierLeague-News.Com
PremierLeague-News.Com - Roberto Firmino agreed to join Liverpool on this day in 2015
PremierLeague-News.Com - Breaking Sport Transfer News ! It’s the summer of 2015, and Jurgen Klopp simply cannot believe what Liverpool are doing. Enjoying a sabbatical in his German homeland having called time on a seven-year stint in charge at Borussia Dortmund, Klopp caught sight of one news article. Over in England, the Reds had signed Roberto Firmino from Hoffenheim in a deal that could cost them up to £29million. “He was a player I thought was one of the best in the Bundesliga,” said Klopp. “So when I saw that Liverpool had signed him I thought ‘How could Liverpool do this?’. “They were not in their 100% best moment and other clubs would have spent more on him. So I thought immediately ‘What a good transfer for them’. “I felt pretty sure clubs would have paid a lot more for him. From his first day (at Hoffenheim), everybody could see he would be a very, very good player, and when Liverpool took him I thought they had made a good choice.” READ MORE: Sadio Mane sends heartfelt response to Mohamed Salah after Liverpool exit READ MORE: Liverpool face Real Madrid 'fight' for £77m midfielder who 'bewitched' Jurgen Klopp Having struggled the previous year with their recruitment in the wake of Luis Suarez’s departure, Liverpool had gone the extra yard to ensure Firmino signed on the dotted line. With Firmino tempted by the prospect of joining compatriot Philippe Coutinho at Anfield, Reds chief executive Ian Ayre, no doubt mindful of previous failures to conclude potential transfers, had flown to Santiago, where Brazil were preparing for a Copa America quarter-final against Paraguay, to get things done. Ayre returned from Chile with a deal sorted and personal terms agreed with Firmino on a five-year contract. But rather than a reason for cheer, behind the scenes the Brazilian had unwillingly found himself at the centre of a long-running power struggle between manager Brendan Rodgers and the club’s transfer committee. Rodgers, unhappy at being persuaded to sign Mario Balotelli the previous year against his better judgement, went along with Firmino’s signing provided Christian Benteke, his preferred big-money target, was later purchased. Benteke arrived for £32.5m a fortnight later, ensuring Firmino was only briefly Liverpool’s second-most expensive signing, the Belgian taking the number nine shirt. Firmino assumed the number 11 from the departing Oussama Assaidi. “He's a top-class player,” said Rodgers. “He's got all the traits and the profile of what we would want as a player – he works very, very hard, he's a talented player and someone we feel can score goals for the team. “Of course, there is no pressure. It just takes that little bit of time to adapt.” From the outset, though, it was clear Rodgers didn’t really know how best to employ Firmino while looking to also use Benteke as a target man. After two brief substitute appearances, the Brazilian started four successive Premier League games on the right flank – none of which were won – and was out with a back injury when Rodgers was jettisoned hours after a 1-1 draw at Everton. EXCLUSIVE: Liverpool midfielder was 'next Wayne Rooney', included in Istanbul squad but hit with betting ban EXCLUSIVE: Liverpool defender who was shot in bum, arrested at training and accidentally hosted wild El-Hadji Diouf party EXCLUSIVE: John Terry tried to bring Liverpool defender best friends with Steven Gerrard to Chelsea Enter Klopp. And if Firmino had been a ‘good transfer’ earlier, he was about to become a great one. “It was a short period (under Rodgers) but I considered him a great manager although I didn’t get much playing time under him,” said Firmino. “When results don’t come along, it is a must to switch managers. “I think Klopp has the typical Germany mentality.
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. I think he will help us. He brings good vibes.” Klopp was similarly encouraged. “I did not know him as a person before I came here but I knew him and liked him as a player and he is still not 100% to where he can go – not even close yet,” he said. “We spoke at the beginning and you could tell from his face he is looking forward to working together. There is a lot to come and it is a good situation for the club.” The first task was to find Firmino’s best position. A trip to Chelsea was on the horizon and the new Liverpool boss was asked what he could do with the enigmatic forward. “Last time with Brazil he played as a nine,” said Klopp. “Usually he plays in offensive midfield or second striker or comes from the wing, but he can play in the centre.” Sure enough, Firmino was the central striker at Stamford Bridge and Chelsea couldn’t cope with his movement. He laid on an assist for Philippe Coutinho before the benched Benteke came on to seal a 3-1 win. It was same story at the Etihad a few weeks later – Firmino with his first Liverpool goal and two more assists – as Manchester City were thumped 4-1, but outings in the role were rarities with Benteke back leading the attack. Matters changed after a dismal 2-0 defeat at West Ham United in January 2016 where Firmino had played in an attacking midfield position behind Benteke. In the next Premier League game at home to Arsenal, the Brazilian was back as the nine and scored twice before Benteke, again thrown on in the second half, laid on a late equaliser for Joe Allen in a 3-3 draw. Firmino scored a further three goals and provided two assists in his next four starts in the position before the return of Daniel Sturridge and form of Divock Origi saw him step back from being the attacking spearhead, playing in the nine role only once more that campaign. Indeed, in the last six Europa League ties that season, Firmino – who had scored in front of the Kop in the last 16 win over Manchester United – played in five different positions, his versatility a blessing for the team but a slight curse on his attempts to show his true value. While the final in Basel was a low point – the Brazilian ineffective, seeing a penalty shout turned away after a handball by Sevilla’s Daniel Carrico and replaced midway through the second half as Liverpool stumbled to a dismal 3-1 reverse – the semi-final second leg win at home to Villarreal offered the perfect showcase of his talents. Firmino forced an early own goal from Bruno Soriano and then created the second for Sturridge. However, it was a piece of skill that left Roberto Soldado bamboozled on the touchline for which the Brazilian is best remembered that evening, the kind of audacity and execution that helped win over any remaining doubters in the stands. Come the end of his debut campaign at Anfield, 11 goals and 11 assists in 49 appearances underlined why he has gone on to become Liverpool’s most used player under Klopp. With Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah then joining, Liverpool's strikeforce was prepared to take on England, Europe and, indeed, the world. Now 30 and into his sixth year for the club, Firmino's tally of 98 goals in 327 appearances so far may be that of a deadeye striker, but his 67 assists underline how he remains an integral part in Liverpool's style of play. No wonder Klopp couldn't believe it when Liverpool swooped. The Reds boss has been eternally grateful for inheriting the player who has gone on to make his all-conquering side truly tick. A version of this article was first published on May 6 2020. READ NEXT: Mohamed Salah has just been handed a major Liverpool problem as Sadio Mane rumour rubbished Michael Owen 'struggling' to understood Liverpool striker transfer decision Double Liverpool exit opens door for player tipped for 'massive' future by Trent Alexander-Arnold Sadio Mane sends heartfelt response to Mohamed Salah after Liverpool exit Jurgen Klopp 'tells' Liverpool who to sign next as 'strange' Sadio Mane message sent
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