Roberto Firmino has announced he intends to leave Liverpool at the end of the season when his contract is up, with the 31-year-old Brazilian forward believing that he still has the desire and ability to start regularly for a top club and a move to the continent considered to be the most likely.
For many Liverpool fans the news came as a blow, even if it wasn’t entirely unexpected, with Firmino both key to the Reds’ recent successes as well as undoubtedly one of the most popular players in the club’s modern history. It’s not just the fans, though, who took the departure news as a bit of a blow.
“Bobby is a special guy,” teammate Fabinho said on Sunday. “He’s someone everyone likes so it’s great to have him as a teammate and it was really cool that he scored and celebrated the way he did. Everyone—on the field and on the bench—celebrated too because he is a guy everyone likes.
“So he’s someone who for me should stay at Liverpool forever, and I don’t want to talk too much about the future but let’s enjoy these last months we have of him. I don’t know if the situation can change, but we joke with him a little. But let’s enjoy it while we have him with us because he is special.”
Realistically, it’s hard to imagine the situation will change between now and the end of the season. However, until the day he signs a contract with another club there will be hope. There might also be the slightest hope that in a year or two Firmino could return to the Reds for another round.
Unlike most Brazilian football exports, Firmino left young and before he’d fully established himself, and his nearly 250 total games for Liverpool make up well over half his professional appearances. For Firmino, the ties to a boyhood club seem less than for most—and his ties to Liverpool stronger.
It might be a long shot, then, but more likely than extending his stay at Anfield this summer there seems a possibility that after a year or two of starting in Italy or Germany, just maybe he would consider a return as a depth option for the side he’s now spent eight massively successful seasons at.