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On The Move: Hoffenheim’s Roberto Firmino

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With a confirmed transfer awaiting the talented Brazilian after his national sides Copa America adventure, many are eager to see where the Roberto Firmino ends up. After a “He’s moving to England” statement from his agent, Roger Wittman, the spectrum of club choices has been somewhat narrowed.

The Mirror have tipped a move to the North West most likely for the ambidextrous Hoffenheim star and following praise from his national manager Dunga, stating he ‘smelt of goals’ since scoring 3 times in 6 appearances following his call up,  Firmino looks likely to produce a record transfer for his current outfit, 1899 Hoffenheim.

The confident 23 year-old can be utilised as a false 9, 10 or a winger on either side making him appealing as he has comes with a preconceived attacking entourage.

With a battle of the North West footballing powers about to unfold, let’s take a look at where the best option could lie.

Liverpool

Before entering Manchester, Merseyside based Liverpool would be the most suitable option for Firmino, especially if Raheem Sterling heads for the exit door. The Brazilian could become a direct replacement for Sterling while also leaving The Reds with a hefty amount of profit, that is assuming there isn’t a monumental bidding war for Firmino. Moving to The Reds would also allow Firmino link up with his national counterpart Coutinho on a regular basis. For Rodgers it would mean he can take the creative responsibility of Coutinho allowing him to flourish even more. For the team, it would equal more goals as both Brazilians assist and score regularly, Firmino created 69 chances last season while Coutinho made 58.

Along with the Coutinho connection, Firmino would compensate for the lack of flair signed so far this window. Milner and Ings are both hard-working while lack the technical skill Firmino possesses. This combination may have a bigger impact than the one with Coutinho as the graft of the English signings would reduce Firmino’s workload, allowing him to focus on attacking play only, resulting in a better goals return for Liverpool. Signing the Hoffenheim star would also disperse any animosity towards Rodgers over his previous transfer dealings.

This signing would also bring its risks however. Having took almost 3 seasons to show his true talent in the Bundesliga, Firmino signed to the German club in 2010 yet was named in the Breakthrough team of the season in the 2013/14 season. The poor start sheds a bad light on his total goal return as well, only notching a meager 35 goals in 140 appearances.

The man from Maceió may also struggle in an arguably more demanding league and an intense training program to bulk him up may lead to injuries meaning the fans would only see glimpses of the talent that he so clearly possesses.

Other problems would include Liverpool’s failure to qualify for the Champions League, something which both Manchester clubs offer, and the fact that Firmino is not the vocal leader they need to replace the loss of Gerrard. Finance could be spent elsewhere especially as it wouldn’t be incorrect to say Firmino and Coutinho mirror each other’s playing style, meaning the Hoffenhiem star isn’t what’s needed at Anfield.

Manchester United

Travelling along the M62 from Liverpool would leave Firmino on Mancunian soil. A city split by footballing loyalty, one side with vast history, another pushing to create theirs. Firmino would have ‘The Matrix’ choice of a red or blue pill. Choosing red means Firmino joins Manchester United, the bookies favourites, although it is quite hard to decipher quite why.

Signs suggest that Louis Van Gaal is a fan of the number 10 as he fits the mould of the Dutchman’s ideal player. His outstanding dribbling talent which left him at the top of the table for successful take-ons by players under 23 betters that of any current United player. Firmino is also a combative 5 ft 8 player being unafraid to get stuck into tackles and battle for headers.

Firmino’s arrival could cause a ripple in the squad layout, leaving Van Gaal with a number of transfer options. If sticking with the 433 formation that did United well last season, United would have Firmino, Young, Di Maria, Valencia, Mata, Januzaj and young Pereira all competing for the wide positions. Young and Valencia seem to be admired by Van Gaal meaning their sale is unlikely. However that leaves 4 current squad players to sort out. Januzaj could be loaned with Everton the most likely destination. Pereira could also leave on loan although Van Gaal seems keen to push through academy talent meaning he could feature next season. The admiration of Firmino from Louis Van Gaal may lead to moves for two Champions League winners in Mata and Di Maria.

Signing Roberto Firmino would keep everybody on their toes leaving Van Gaal with positive problems, if there is such a thing.

Yet, the cost of importing Firmino may be an unnecessary one as United have such strength in depth. With Mata’s sparkling end of season form and the acceptance that Di Maria will shine means Firmino could prove to be a worthless addition. Spending big on world beaters such as Gareth Bale may be more useful than a less expensive Brazilian import that would only play second fiddle.

Manchester City

Choosing the blue pill would leave Firmino at Manchester City. The Arab owned Citizens would present Firmino with the potential for much more playing time, while also offering the Champions League challenge. With Navas playing poorly it would be easy for Firmino to replace the Spaniard in the starting 11 and the 23 year-old would also take the creative pressure of David Silva. The addition of the Brazilians goals may mean City can outscore their rivals to the title. In addition, the lucrative wages on offer may be an underlying factor in the move, even though fans would hope he doesn’t move for the money.

An attractive club for Firmino switches as he becomes an attractive signing for the club. Having come 3rd in the Bundesliga assists ranking, Firmino is a much cheaper option to the table leader Kevin De Bruyne, and City’s other target Raheem Sterling. The latter two could end up costing around £40 million which would cripple City if it caused them to overstep FFP regulations. Firmino would cost less than half of what Sterling and De Bruyne could cost making him a much more viable option. In addition to his smaller price tag, Firmino offers more variety in playing positions allowing Pellegrini to tinker with his lineup more often to fit the best players in.

However, the move could leave City struggling with FFP if they have to fight for Firmino in a bidding war.  Another regulation would also be in trouble of being broken as Firmino doesn’t fill out City’s homegrown quota which may result in star players being left out the already over capacity squad, as shown by Sagna being removed from the Champions League squad in January. Depending on the intricate depth of FFP, paying an increased sum for Sterling may be more beneficial than saving on Firmino.

For Firmino, the step up between his current outfit, Hoffenheim, and Champions League competitors, Manchester City, may prove to be to big allowing Liverpool to benefit from their own failure to qualify for Europe’s top competition.

With a lot to consider for the man ‘moving to England’, lets just hope the club he chooses allows him to convey the ambidextrous magic he holds in his flamboyant Brazilian feet.

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West Ham United

Marlon Santos joining West Ham would be ideal solution to defensive woes

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Photo: Getty Images.

There will be a summer of change at West Ham United this summer and with James Collins leaving the club there will be a spot opening up in defence. Reports from Spain indicate that the man to fill it could be Barcelona youngster Marlon Santos.

The Brazilian joined the Spanish giants permanently last summer after impressing for their B team and earning a first team debut in 2016/17 and spent pre-season with Ernesto Valverde’s first team before being sent out on loan.

Now, reliable Catalan newspaper Mundo Deportivo say that West Ham are interested in taking the defender on loan next season after he has impressed in France, playing for OGC Nice, making 27 appearances during his loan spell.

(Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

The 22-year-old has also been linked with Leicester but with West Ham believed to be leading the chase, it would be a wise move from Manuel Pellegrini to seal a deal as soon as possible.

Strong in the tackle, Santos would also bring some much needed pace to the West Ham defence. Replacing the likes of Collins and Jose Fonte who departed in January, the arrival of a fleet-footed defender would be a welcome turnaround at the London Stadium.

It may also suggest a change in style, with the former Fluminense youth product known for his ability on the ball, often looking to dribble out from the back to get his team transitioning from defence to attack.

Pellegrini is clearly putting the building blocks in place to build a side in his own image, and bringing in Marlon Santos would be a cheap and sensible addition to fix a major problem area.

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Tottenham Hotspur

Malcom would add another dimension to Tottenham’s attack

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Photo: Getty Images.

After an impressive 2017/18 campaign, Tottenham are already beginning to plan for 2018/19 and are keen to make a statement in their first season in a new look White Hart Lane. One way they may do so is with the addition of Girondins Bordeaux forward Malcom.

Sky Bet currently list Tottenham at 7/2 to sign the Brazilian, just behind favourites Manchester United in the running at 3/1, and such an acquisition would bring an exciting new element to Mauricio Pochettino‘s attacking set-up.

Predominantly playing on the right wing, Malcom may offer more width than many of the options within the Tottenham squad, but much like Heung-Min Son and Erik Lamela, he likes to dribble on the ball and cut inside, offering a direct threat rather than looking to cross into others.

The 21-year-old scored 12 goals in 35 Ligue Un games for Bordeaux this season and whilst not exactly prolific, would help to add goals to the Lilywhites’ midfield and reduce the reliance on Harry Kane.

(Photo credit should read NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP/Getty Images)

He also has some similarities to the likes of Christian Eriksen as a superb set piece taker who likes to shoot from distance, helping to add another dimension as Tottenham look to break down more defensive sides who sit deep in hope of frustrating them.

With huge potential to develop even further, Malcom may not come cheaply but would represent an interesting project for Pochettino to get even more out of him. Whilst he bares many similarities to Erik Lamela when he arrived in north London, if he can avoid injury he could go on to become the player Spurs had hoped to see Lamela become.

His pace and threat would add a much needed option into the Spurs attack, complimenting the playmakers like Eriksen, Dele Alli and Lucas Moura and supporting the goalgetter Harry Kane. Strength in depth is key in Tottenham’s quest for silverware and Malcom would be a step in the right direction to achieving it.

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Newcastle United

Fulham promotion opens up £15m exit for Aleksandar Mitrovic

The Newcastle United star is likely to move away from the club this summer.

Mathew Coull

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Fulham won promotion to the Premier League yesterday with a 1-0 win over Aston Villa in the Championship play-off final. The Cottagers scored in the first-half through Tom Cairney to rightfully take their place back in the top-flight of English football.

It was a tremendous performance and in the summer Fulham will be looking to bring in some new faces to help them stay in the top-flight. One of those faces, will not be necessarily new. Aleksandar Mitrovic has been brilliant for Fulham since joining on loan in January.

The Serbian striker has scored 12 goals since his arrival at Craven Cottage and will no doubt be wanted permanently at the club.

Is this good news for Newcastle United?

There has been plenty of talk regarding the Serbian’s exit from St James’ Park in the winter. Many fans on Tyneside are wondering whether the club should have kept him at Newcastle, considering his goal record in London.

(during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Watford at St. James Park on November 25, 2017 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

However, it is clear that Rafa Benitez is not a fan of the player and the Spaniard certainly made things work without him.

The best thing for Newcastle right now is to sell him and ensure they bring in enough money to cover the cost of his original signing.

Fulham represent their best option to do so. Newcastle want about £15 million for the player, according to the London Evening Standard, which is the fee they paid for the Serbian in 2015.

Fulham will no doubt want to bring him to the club this summer, but would not have been able to bring him to the club had they failed to secure promotion to the Premier League.

The Cottagers can now afford the player and Mitrovic’s price-tag is unlikely to be a problem with the bonus they will receive for heading into the top-flight. Newcastle must be pleased that Fulham earned promotion, as it will allow them the best opportunity to move Mitrovic on without a major loss.

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