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Official: Roberto Firmino Signs for Al-Ahli

The former Liverpool striker has chosen to retire from European football and will finish his career in Saudi Arabia.

Southampton v Liverpool - Premier League - St. Mary’s Stadium Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images

When Roberto Firmino decided that it was time to move on from Liverpool, most assumed that the 31-year old Brazilian striker would join a top European club. There were rumours of a potential return to Germany or a move to Serie A, as well as rumours of interest from Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Instead, in a summer that has seen the Saudi league flex its oil money in service of the gulf state’s latest sportswashing project, Firmino has chosen to join Al-Ahli, signalling an end to his playing days in Europe despite that a few more years in a top flight competition seemed possible for the player.

Doing so will mean a major payday, and growing up poor in Brazil one can sympathise with a desire to maximise one’s earning potential before their football career ends. With Firmino having earned £10M a season in salary alone each of the last five years, though, it’s hard to be that sympathetic.

Still, Firmino isn’t the first Liverpool legend to take the bag and head to Saudi Arabia, with Steven Gerrard agreeing yesterday to become manager at Al-Ettifaq—and he may not be the last Red heading there this summer, either, with rumours Saudi clubs are actively courting Thiago Alcantara.

Hopefully, whatever footballing aspirations Firmino might have had left, be they winning more silverware in a major league, running out at some of the game’s most storied venues, or perhaps pushing his way back into contention with Brazil, the money will make it easier to have given up on them.

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