Liverpool head into Sunday’s crucial Premier League fixture against Tottenham Hotspur with something of a selection dilemma in attack. Summer signing Darwin Núñez had to make do with a spot on the bench for the Reds’ 2-0 Champions League victory over Napoli, whilst Curtis Jones continued his return from injury on the left of a front three.
One man who has been in a rich vein of goalscoring form so far this season is Roberto Firmino. Considered by many to be fifth in the pecking order for an attacking berth at the start of the season, the Brazilian has surprised many with his goal output in recent months. Will Firmino continue to start in the centre of a front three against Spurs? Or will Núñez lead the line, with another option coming in on the left-hand side?
Firmino is out of contract at the end of the season. There is a strong argument that his recent exploits should see him rewarded with an extension. Alternatively, with one of the oldest squads in the Premier League, should the LFC brains trust look to the future and say bye-bye to Bobby?
On the latest episode of our Journo Insight Show, Redmen TV Club Legend Josh Hall asked goal.com’s Neil Jones for his opinion.
“It doesn’t feel like it would be a particularly difficult deal to do, really, with Firmino. It’s not Salah levels of salary, it’s not Sadio Mané wanting a new challenge – can you convince him? Those issues I don’t think are there with Firmino. I think if Liverpool really wanted to give him a three-year contract… I think with Salah you had a good idea – at 33 he’ll be playing ‘this many’ games and scoring ‘this many’ goals. With Bobby Firmino I think it’s difficult. This is a little bit of a reversion, he’s surprised everyone this season with the amount of goals, with the amount of minutes played. Can you bank on that for three years? With Firmino I don’t think you can. I think it makes it more difficult to say ‘just give him a deal’. They’ve made some signings that are in his position – Darwin wants to play down the middle, Jota wants to play down the middle or is best suited to playing down the middle. I think everything is pointing towards Firmino at the end of the season getting the tears, the hugs and the thank-yous.”
Bobby will certainly be giving Jürgen Klopp and his management team pause for thought regarding a possible contract extension. There was an acceptance that (despite his heroics in a red shirt) Divock Origi had come to the end of the road at Anfield and was released last season. There seemed to be a similar vibe surrounding Firmino, with his goal and assist returns dwindling and his status as an indispensable member of Liverpool’s attack disappearing as the Brazilian entered his thirties. Bobby has certainly been ‘raging against the dying of the light’ so far this season, with football’s brightest smile gleaming once again following some superb goals. Unfortunately, the three-year contract mooted seems like one that could spell trouble should Firmino decline significantly as he approaches his mid-thirties. Too young for a ‘one-year top-up’ à la James Milner, it looks as though the man that has been a constant throughout the great performances of the Klopp era could be moving on in the not-too-distant future.