Roberto Firmino will be missed at Liverpool but the impressive performances of his successor will soften the blow of his departure in the coming seasons.
A sumptuous individual strike proved to be the last dance in a storied eight-year spell at Liverpool for Roberto Firmino. As the popular Brazilian departs, however, his heir at Anfield is already apparent.
There is no doubt that Firmino will be missed by pretty much everybody associated with the Reds, with his infectious personality and footballing brilliance making him one of the most loved players on the Kop in modern times. One cannot overlook his contributions this season either, with the 31-year-old having scored 13 goals and notched three assists from 35 outings— amounting to 0.94 goal contributions per 90 minutes.
That said, as the old adage goes, all good things must come to an end, with the 4-4 draw against relegated Southampton the final curtain call for the Klopp mainstay. In effect, when Firmino was eventually subbed off to a standing ovation from Liverpool’s traveling supporters in the 56th minute at St Mary’s, the introduction of Cody Gakpo from the bench in his place felt like a symbolic changing of the guard.
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Of course, the former PSV Eindhoven man has been a Reds player for nearly six months at this point and has settled impressively well into the ‘false nine’ role in Klopp’s set-up, which Firmino first pioneered. In many ways, the master effectively handed over to the apprentice to Gakpo in the second half, with Klopp able to effectively stick with the same system, as a result.
It would be fair to say the Dutchman once again demonstrated his credentials as Firmino’s successor at Liverpool against the Saints, capping off an industrious run-out with a goal in the 72nd minute. What will have really pleased his manager is that his tenacity in the press was unwavering after he was introduced — making two ball recoveries and more tackles than any Reds player across the 90 minutes with seven.
On top of this, he also created two chances after entering the fray, with his ability to bring his teammates into play with his back to goal also reminiscent of the man he has been brought in to replace. It is no coincidence that Liverpool looked the far more dominant and dangerous side during the final 25 minutes of the game and one could probably argue a solid case that they would have beaten Southampton had the team that saw out the game been named as the starting XI.