Roberto Firmino’s exit marks end of an era as Liverpool prepare final farewell for Anfield’s brightest smile

Firmino’s Anfield farewell will feel like the end of an era

Sonia Twigg
Friday 19 May 2023 13:57 BST
Firmino helped the Reds win their first league title in 30 years in 2020
Firmino helped the Reds win their first league title in 30 years in 2020 (Getty)

A final flash of his bright smile and Roberto Firmino will depart Anfield for the last time on Saturday, marking the end of a chapter in the story of Jurgen Klopp’s tenure as manager.

There will be few Liverpool fans who do not wish him well. He has been one of the most beloved members of the team and led the forward line to their first league title in 30 years in 2020.

An entire generation of Reds supporters have grown up watching the Brazilian No 9, and at least a few will surely shed a tear when he leaves the club at the end of the season after eight years.

Some will criticise Klopp for his efforts and ultimate failure, after it emerged the manager wished and was unable to keep Firmino for another season, but it seems to be a fitting time to mark the end of an era. After all, Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez and Luis Diaz have all been signed since January 2022 with an eye to the future.

Firmino is one of just five senior Liverpool players whose arrival on Merseyside pre-dated German manager Klopp, and one of two to be departing this summer. James Milner, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will also leave when their contracts expire at the end of the current season.

For Firmino, he joined the club as a 23-year-old in 2015 for a reported £29m, becoming the club’s then second most expensive player as Liverpool tried to re-establish themselves in the top four.

Having been signed as an attacking midfielder, and one who started life out on the wing under Brendan Rodgers, it was a slight surprise when he ultimately thrived in the middle of a front three.

His eight years have spanned the rise of the club from being rooted outside the Champions League places to Premier League and European champions. The years in between also included a global pandemic and the dismal behind-closed-doors fixtures.

Ahead of Liverpool’s match against Aston Villa on 20 May, it is worth looking at the numbers. Firmino has scored 109 times in all competitions: 80 in the league, and has notched up 72 assists. The figures show that Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah would undoubtedly not have been as prolific as they were without Firmino, who set up the Egyptian 22 times and Mane 17.

Firmino has won everything in a Liverpool shirt (AFP/Getty)

There are moments that will live far longer in the memory than others, however. He slotted seamlessly into Liverpool’s most prolific strike force for decades alongside Mane and Salah, winning every major domestic trophy and the Champions League and Club World Cup during his eight years on Merseyside.

Fans will be divided over their favourite Firmino moment, and there are a few to choose from. Would it be his hat-trick in a comeback 5-1 win over Arsenal in December 2018? His last-gasp winner against Paris Saint Germain in the Champions League group stages the year Liverpool went on to lift the trophy? His extra-time strike to see Liverpool crowned Club World Cup champions for the first time, with a 1-0 win over Flamengo in 2019?

The forward has already received one farewell from the fans, when he was serenaded throughout the final minutes of Liverpool’s 3-0 win at Leicester on Monday, despite not stepping onto the field, but it will be the final Anfield departure that will truly feel like the end of an era.

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