In a little more than 24 hours, Roberto Firmino has gone from a series of rumours in O Globo to a seemingly done deal, as multiple English sources including Sky and the Liverpool Echo are reporting that the club have agreed a fee with Hoffenheim and personal terms with the player. All that’s left now is the player’s signature and securing a work permit before the move can be made official, neither of which are expected to cause a problem.
Firmino is currently on duty with Brazil at the Copa America in Chile, where he scored the winning goal for his country on Sunday night against Venezuela. He has been a fixture at 1899 Hoffenheim since January of 2011, when the German side brought him to Europe from Figueirense. In the four and a half seasons since, he has made 153 appearances and scored 49 goals in all competitions while playing at every position in Hoffenheim’s attack.
Equally adept at lining up as an attacking midfielder or second striker, Firmino can also do a job on the wings or as an outright striker, showing the same kind of flexibility that made Alexis Sanchez so appealing as Luis Suarez’ replacement last summer. That Liverpool failed to land the Chilean was a massive blow, and one that in the end massively undermined their chances last season. Firmino’s capture, belatedly, makes right that miss.
The 23-year-old is already an established star, but appears ready to take the next step in his career, and he will become the club’s most exciting attacking signing since they brought in Suarez from Ajax in 2011. He will also help fans who have been burned by the club missing out on far too many big-name signings in recent seasons to move on from past disappointments in the transfer market and to head into the 2015-16 with renewed hope.
Reports suggest the final fee will fall between £25-30M, but regardless, this the kind of signing that signals the club’s determination to get back into the top four, and it’s the kind of signing that could realistically make Liverpool favourites to do just that—particularly if strong rumours linking the club to the likes of Carlos Bacca, Asier Illarramendi, and Nathaniel Clyne can turn into to a few more exciting signings.