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Darren Lewis: United may have Depay but Firmino is still a fine deal for Liverpool

29 Jun | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Darren Lewis: United may have Depay but Firmino is still a fine deal for Liverpool

Exciting Brazil star is the kind of signing Reds needed to prove they can still attract quality - if only they had moved as quickly to keep Gerrard and Sterling at the club...

IT IS THE way of football that people find reasons to look for the negatives in a transfer deal rather than the positives.

There is a body of opinion suggesting the £11million that Arsenal are about to pay for Petr Cech is “a lot of money for a 33-year-old”.

Never mind the fact that Manchester United signed Edwin van der Sar in 2005 at the ripe old age of 34.

There were those who, when Alexis Sanchez signed for Arsenal after the World Cup last year, doubted whether the Chilean could cope with the physicality of the English game.

Sixteen Premier League goals – more than any other Arsenal player – later and his doubters are eating their words and licking their fingers.

And then there is Roberto Firmino. To be fair the £28million package (£22million plus add-ons) that Liverpool are paying the German club Hoffenheim for him is a lot of money.

And yes, in the Brazilian 23-year-old’s best season in Germany he managed only 16 goals.

And yes, Memphis Depay, who helped PSV win the Dutch title last season did score more goals for his club and did go for less money.

But it is still unfair to suggest one club or the other got a better or worse deal.

You could argue that while the Hoffenheim team struggled for goals last season, Firmino’s 23 assists compared to Depay’s 15 for PSV was very respectable.

His overall numbers for Hoffenheim are particularly decent, with 49 in 153 appearances.

According to our friends at Sky Sports, Firmino created even more chances than £50million Raheem Sterling last season.

His winner on Sunday night as Brazil beat Venezuela at the Copa America was his fourth goal in nine international matches.

His international coach Dunga has gushed about him, insisting: “He smells of goals.”

But when all is said and done it is not about the stats, the profile or the money. It is about what Firmino will mean to his new club. 

Liverpool have needed to land a player like him.

They have needed to send out the message – after losing Depay to United, Sanchez last summer, Suarez to Barcelona and with Raheem Sterling set for the exit door, that Anfield is still able to attract big talents.

If they are able to supplement Firmino’s signing with that of Sevilla striker Carlos Bacca, who scored 28 goals last season, so much the better. 

Liverpool can’t compete for the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sergio Ramos. 

Guys like Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann, currently interesting Chelsea, or Sevilla midfielder Gregorz Krychowiak are only interested in the Champions League.

Liverpool have had a steady drain of talent for years with the likes of Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano and Fernando Torres all deciding they had a better chance of winning things elsewhere.

Firmino believes different. He is optimistic about his move to Anfield. He is showing his quality at the Copa America and while there is no guarantee that he will transfer that form to the Premier League his signing is a glimmer of hope for Liverpool in the wider context.

You just wonder whether Reds fans wish chief executive Ian Ayre, who jetted out to the Chilean capital Santiago and wrapped up this deal with impressive speed, had moved as quickly to keep Steven Gerrard at the club.

Or been more decisive in ensuring Raheem Sterling, who revealed he would have remained at Anfield had he been offered a new contract last year, had not been left as disillusioned as he now is.

Should Gerrard be schlepping around the MLS next season? No chance. Like Ryan Giggs at Manchester United, he should never have been allowed to leave Anfield. But that’s a different story.

Liverpool are learning their lessons. Chelsea winger Mo Salah, impressive on loan at Fiorentina last season, slipped through their fingers because they failed to strike a deal quickly enough.

Willian also went to Chelsea because Liverpool would not meet Anzhi’s asking price.

They have wasted no time in stumping up the cash for Firmino after losing Depay. They are hoping he will sprinkle the stardust that they need on the team. He has already sparked a fair bit of optimism.

11/4 – Liverpool to finish in the Top 4