Liverpool might have missed out on perfect £26m Roberto Firmino replacement

Liverpool might have missed out on perfect £26m Roberto Firmino replacement

Liverpool Echo Sports·2021-08-25 22:00

A football team is a constantly evolving thing. Different players from the squad will inevitably be unavailable for selection from time to time which can open opportunities for someone else to stake their claim.It seems hard to believe now, but Andy Robertsons first extended run in Jurgen Klopps team came about only after Alberto Moreno had suffered an injury, for instance.A squad also has to evolve on a longer-term basis, as players age or depart in search of a new challenge elsewhere. This is an issue which may afflict Liverpool in the near future, with their established front three now beginning their fifth campaign together. The trio of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah each have just under two years remaining on their contracts at present and all will be in their thirties by the time the 2022/23 season gets underway. The evolution of the Reds front line has begun to some extent, with Diogo Jota having proven to be a fine acquisition. He started the first two matches of the season in place of Firmino, though as the latter had less of a pre-season programme it makes sense that the Portuguese has featured more. Nonetheless, for all that the Brazilian brings to Liverpools front three, as the lowest scoring member of the group he is perhaps the one who is most at risk of regularly losing his place in the side. READ MORE: Liverpool make major decision on four players to avoid selection nightmareAnd when it finally comes time to replace Firmino on a more permanent basis, it will not be easy. The task has been made harder with the news that Hertha Berlins Matheus Cunha is set to join Atletico Madrid for a relatively low fee of around £26m. Hes not exactly the same type of player as Firmino, if only because he plays in far more positions. Only five of his appearances in 2020/21 were as a centre-forward (per Transfermarkt), with 15 seeing him on the left wing in Pal Dardais Hertha side.However, the 22-year-old has plenty in common with Liverpools number nine, and not just that they both hail from Brazil and made their names in the Bundesliga. The similarities are not immediately apparent from a brief glance at their pages on FBRef, but that is because they are being assessed differently on there. Take a closer look at their numbers and they are incredibly similar in several key areas.Read MoreRelated ArticlesRead MoreRelated ArticlesFor instance, in 2020/21 both players averaged 0.29 goals for every 90 minutes they played in the league. The similarity was no doubt a result of their expected goals averages only being 0.06 apart, while the difference between their shot frequency figures clocked in with just 0.13 per 90 minutes.Their underlying creativity statistics were even more alike, with an expected assist difference of just 0.01 per 90 minutes leading to a divide of 0.05 assists per 90 in reality.Pressing is a huge part of how Klopp likes his team to play, and Cunha averaged 20.6 pressures per 90 minutes played while Firminos figure was 18.9. The former was more active off ball in the defensive third, the latter in the attacking part of the pitch (as you would expect), but in the central third the difference between them was equivalent to about one pressure per season. Join our official Liverpool fans groupConnect with Liverpool fans from around the world in our official supporters group.Keep up to date with the latest breaking news, transfer gossip and everything LFC with thousands of Reds!Join our group for FREE by clicking here!Theyre not clones in every aspect. Cunha appears to be the better dribbler and carries the ball into the penalty area more frequently than Firmino does. But Bobby trumps his compatriot on the ball, completing more progressive passes and balls into the penalty box, though playing for a much better side Hertha finished 14th last season means all comparisons have to be made with that proviso in mind. But at face value the two players seem to be producing a similar level of output, and with Firmino celebrating his 30th birthday in less than six weeks time, have Liverpool missed a good opportunity to secure his eventual successor?Read MoreRelated ArticlesRead MoreRelated Articles


Read full article on Liverpool Echo Sports