As much as Liverpool supporters have been contented with the arrivals of James Milner, Danny Ings and Adam Bogdan, the recent news of Hoffenheim’s Brazilian star Roberto Firmino is surely the biggest transfer story of the summer so far. Before then, the signing of Charlton Athletic’s 18 year old defender Joe Gomez was seen by most as a positive move. But in reality Gomez was one for the future and it will be a few years before Reds fans see Gomez in the starting line-up on a regular basis. Brazilian Connection Having agreed a deal of around £29 million, Firmino will have much expectations on his shoulders. The 23 year old Brazilian international is currently starring in the Copa America, linking up with fellow Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho in Brazil’s attack. Coutinho is filling in the void left by the suspended Neymar, while Firmino is leading the line as coach Dunga’s false number 9.
Firmino has shown at both club and national level that he can operate in any attacking position, and with Daniel Sturridge out till November, Firmino will likely be pushed up front for the first few months of the new campaign, supported by his Copa America partner-in-crime. The Brazilian attacker may even play off fellow new signing Danny Ings, such has his signing given manager Brendan Rodgers a much healthier headache, with forwards of higher calibre to choose from. Firmino’s career at Hoffenheim saw him score 35 league goals in 140 appearances, one goal every four games is a pretty decent return for an attacking player. Firmino will be looking to replicate his career high 16 league goals during the 2013/14 Bundesliga season. More than just goals, Firmino will have the presence and strength to cope with the English game, having started out as a defensive midfielder in his earlier days. Rodgers will hope Firmino can replicate the success of Liverpool’s last two South American signings, Coutinho and most notably Uruguayan Luis Suarez. The Brazilian international should be able to settle in well, with Coutinho and fellow Brazilian Lucas Leiva at Anfield as well. Defensive Hopefuls.
Away from what will be one of a few star signings this summer, Liverpool’s acquisition of England U-19 defender Gomez is less exciting but pretty intriguing. Gomez is surely seen as a replacement for the Sunderland-bound Sebastian Coates. However, rather than just go straight out on loan in this same summer, Rodgers will likely see Gomez as the ideal man to fill Jon Flanagan’s place until the latter returns to full fitness in November. Gomez might see some cup action – maybe even the Europa League – at right-back and once Flanagan returns to full fitness, the young recruit will be loaned out in January to continue his development – probably to a team in the second tier.
One defender hoping for a breakthrough season is Portuguese U-21 star Tiago Ilori. Having impressed against England U-21 at the U-21 European Championships for shackling Harry Kane, Ilori apparently rejected a move to Sunderland and will now be given a chance to fight for a first-team spot during pre-season. Ilori has much potential and Rodgers would do no better than to give the young Portuguese a shot, since Rodgers did sign him for £7 million two years ago and as Dejan Lovren has not necessarily inspired much confidence. Ilori also has the passing range and ability to play out from the back – traits that Rodgers desires.
Firmino’s price tag has probably spent much of Rodgers’ transfer budget, but with Coates, Fabio Borini and Mario Balotelli among others likely to fetch decent prices, the manager can still push on with other targets like Nathaniel Clyne, Mateo Kovacic and Asier Illarramendi. However, Rodgers might be able to secure these signings should Manchester City really come through with their £50 million bid for Raheem Sterling. As the fee structure will likely be £45 million plus £5 million in add-ons, after taking away QPR’s 20% sale-on clause, Rodgers will be left with an immediate credit of £36 million. The higher management at Anfield has done well so far to hold firm with their valuation, as should City decide to withdraw from the bidding, Rodgers will still be able to use Sterling for the next campaign.
The rising English star should note how much he is yet to improve to be considered a genuine star. Sterling’s finishing and end product is still very raw, and moving clubs too early could be detrimental to his potential career. The likes of Jack Rodwell, Scott Sinclair and even Shaun Wright-Phillips are fine examples of English starlets moving too soon and failing to realise their potential. Sterling will do well to stay at Anfield and develop his game further, but should he still want to leave, £36 million for a player with little desire and poor attitude will be seen as good business. On the other side of the attitude spectrum is Danny Ings, who humbly took the number 28 jersey instead of more conventional numbers like 9 that forwards usually take. It just shows how much Ings values his Anfield move and also highlights his desire to further improve himself in order to reach his fullest potential at Anfield. This can only bode well for the Reds, as this combination of Ings’ willpower and the suitability of his playing style could see Ings be a much herald success next campaign.
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