Roberto Firmino’s announcement of his departure from Liverpool caught his team-mates off guard, according to compatriot Fabinho.
The midfielder – a team-mate of Firmino’s for both Liverpool and Brazil – believes that the forward still has his best football ahead of him.
Firmino is gearing up for his final match as a Reds player and could be given a chance to start against Southampton on Sunday.
The news of Firmino’s departure has left Liverpool supporters and those within the club saddened, prompting a farewell party at Anfield last week.
Speaking to Sky Sports before Firmino’s exit, Fabinho expressed his surprise at the decision, revealing that the team had been encouraging him to stay.
“This season, we were always asking him, ‘Bobby, when are you signing your new contract?'” Fabinho said.
“[We told him], ‘Come on, we want you to sign, you have to stay here with us.’ We didn’t really expect him to go.
“So yes, we didn’t really expect this decision to be made, but he has to go.”
Over the last couple of seasons, Firmino lost his position as a first-choice starter under Jurgen Klopp, withDarwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo taking on the centre-forward role this year.
While Firmino is seen as making way for the next generation, Fabinho also noted his frustration with the striker’s fitness issues.
“Sometimes we saw that he was not happy because of the injuries as well,” Fabinho added.
“He’s somebody that really didn’t get injured, but this season he struggled a little bit with injuries. But now, we already know he will not stay. It was a pretty emotional week for all of us.
“Everybody loves him. Us players, we love him because he’s a really nice guy. He doesn’t want the [accolades], he doesn’t care about it. He just wants to help the team. That’s why we love him.”
Liverpool will bid farewell to three other players at the end of the season – Naby Keita, James Milner, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – who have all played their part in the club’s success under Klopp.