Roberto Firmino is going to have many options to choose from when it comes time to decide where he wants to play after his Liverpool contract expires this summer. Since news broke last week that the Brazilian forward had decided not to negotiate an extension to stay at LFC, the rumour mill has been working in overdrive to connect Bobby to clubs all over the world.
The rumours range from believable destinations in Spain and Italy to more farfetched landing spots in MLS or Saudi Arabia. Let's look at a few of the clubs being linked to the charismatic Brazilian.
Inter seems to be one of the most likely landing spots for Firmino. There have been rumblings of interest from the Milanese side for several months and Transfermarkt’s Manuel Veth believes their interest is genuine and they stand a strong chance of ultimately winning the competition for Bobby’s signature.
The Serie A club are firmly entrenched as a Champions League side, they have been in the mix for league titles in recent years (they won the title two seasons ago), and they could likely offer consistent playing time. This has to make them one of the frontrunners if they are indeed interested.
Journalist Ben Jacobs told TEAMtalk that he’s hearing Atlético are the team to watch in regards to Firmino. They could be an enticing option for many of the same reasons Inter are considered a frontrunner. Jacobs thinks Firmino is still good enough to stay in Europe and play in the Champions League, and doesn’t really see him moving to a lesser league for a few more years. So, of the potentially interested clubs, Diego Simeone’s side are the favorites in his eyes.
Turkey’s winningest club are an interesting option as a potential darkhorse to secure Firmino’s signature. Ben Jacobs also mentioned that Galatasaray have shown genuine interest, and thinks they may try to make a real push to sign Bobby.
While the Turkish side are a clear step down from Inter or Atlético, they shouldn’t be ruled out entirely. They can still offer UCL football and Firmino would likely be the star there instead of being one of multiple big names like he would be in Italy or Spain. That may not be what he’s looking for, but if that prospect is in any way appealing, Galatasaray could stand a chance here.
I’m reluctantly including the Saudi Arabian side only because they’re being mentioned frequently. Jacobs suggested Al-Nassr are looking at players like Firmino and Sergio Ramos to add more star power alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, but the only real potential attraction here for a name like Firmino or Ramos is the prospect of a truckload of money and playing with Ronaldo.
Fortunately, Firmino doesn’t seem to be especially financially motivated, so this one seems highly unlikely. Hopefully that’s the case because the only thing that sounds worse than Bobby ending up at a Saudi club is Bobby playing with a grade-A asshat like Ronaldo.
Atlanta United and Los Angeles FC
A number of Major League Soccer clubs are also supposedly hoping to lure Firmino back across the Atlantic. There are a variety of reports suggesting Atlanta United and defending champions Los Angeles FC are keen on the forward.
LAFC are probably the likelier of the two given the draw of the city itself. This has helped LAFC and the Los Angeles Galaxy signed a number of international superstars over the years, and that appeal can’t be overlooked. LAFC are also likely in the market for a high-profile attacker to replace the now-retired Gareth Bale.
Jacobs mentions that Atlanta have a historic interest in Firmino, but they are probably out of the running given they added a pair of new forwards ahead of the 2023 season.
Saint Louis City FC
Without a doubt, the most exciting rumoured destination for LFC’s number 9 for me, a person who lived just outside St Louis, Missouri for most of the first 29 years of my life, is MLS’s newest side. According to MLS journalist Tom Bogert, St. Louis are considering an approach thanks to the connection their Sporting Director, Lutz Pfannenstiel, has with Firmino.
Pfannenstiel, who served as head of international relations and scouting at 1899 Hoffenheim from 2011-2018, was key in bringing Firmino to Germany from Figueirense. According to Transfermarkt, he expressed interest in trying to convince the Brazilian to join his new project the moment he heard Firmino was set to leave Liverpool after this season. While it’s unlikely, it would be a huge coup for a team that has shocked MLS by winning the first three matches in their inaugural season despite a lack of big names and star power.
The connection to Pfannenstiel does probably give them a leg up on any of the other potential suitors outside of Europe. The possibility of being the star on a team clearly being embraced and driven on to punch above their weight by a city that is ecstatic to finally have a team in MLS could also be an appealing prospect.
Most importantly, it would make me very, very happy and take much of the sting out of Bobby leaving LFC.
Also, look at this kit. It is practically begging to be worn by Roberto Firmino.
So, where does Bobby end up? It’s pretty hard to say at this point. While he could surprise us and decide he wants to give MLS a go or even return to Brazil, Ben Jacobs’ assessment is probably on point. Firmino isn’t the same player he was even two years ago, but he is still a very talented, useful attacker and he is certainly still good enough to play for and make serious contributions to many of the top sides in Europe.
He may not end up with Atlético or Inter, but it seems overwhelmingly likely the next stop of his career will be with a UCL-caliber side in Spain, Italy, or Germany.