We all know this summer’s transfer window will be a short and hectic one, with clubs rushing in to get the top talents as soon as they are free of National team duties and some even before the head of to Brazil. But what if there is a top talent who will not be at the World Cup and can be signed for a reasonable fee without the fear of World Cup price inflation? Roberto Firmino might just be that player.
Roberto Firmino Barbosa de Oliveira started his professional career at Brazilian club Figueirense, breaking into the first team in 2009, after joining the youth set up a year earlier. Firmino made just 38 appearances, scoring 8 goals before he was approached and signed by German club 1899 Hoffenheim in December 2010 making the move official in January 2011 for €4m. Firmino was just 19 when he made his debut for Hoffenheim, in his first season most of his games were coming on from the bench where he scored 3 goals. However since that first season Firmino has just been getting better and better and in his second season became a regular in the first team, and he has never looked back now being Hoffenheim’s most important player and one of the biggest talents in Bundesliga. Up to now, Roberto Firmino has scored 39 goals and made 24 assists in 117 games for the German outfit.
In the 2013/14 season Firmino has shown Europe just how good he is, with 22 goals and 16 assists, which is a goal every 150 minutes.
These are the positions in which Firmino lined up in the Bundesliga for Hoffenheim this season:
Of the 22 goals Firmino scored this season, 14 were right footed, 4 left footed, 2 headers and 2 converted penalties.
Style of play
Firmino is first and foremost and attacking midfielder or number 10. This is the position which he favours and plays at most of the time, but he does thrive in a more free roaming role behind the striker, rather than a restricted No.10 role. However he is extremely versatile and can play on either wing, on the left cutting in on his right foot or on the left going down the line. He can also play as the number 9, which would make him a fantastic weapon for any team as he can play in a number of positions all effectively and this also aids him in terms of interchanging in games and keeping the play very fluid in attack.
While Firmino is a very attractive, attacking force he is also keen to work hard for the team, closing down, tracking back and challenging to win the ball back. In attack he loves to dribble with the ball using all his dexterity to take on and pass players. He is very inventive and skillful on the ball, and uses his pace and frame to help pass opponents and hold them off when needed. Firmino’s first through off the ball is to attack the box and get into a position to get a goal.
Finishing – Efficient and pretty deadly. As you could probably tell by Firmino’s goal tally this season he is a very good finisher, he has the ability to finish most of his chances whether from close range or around the edge of the box. Many out and out number nines would be envious of Roberto Firmino’s ability to finish chances.
Dribbling – Firmino can carry the ball forward at pace, with flair and drive. He has incredible skill and can anticipate the movement of his opponent to take advantage and drive past him or use skill to outsmart the defender.
Passing/Playmaking – Roberto Firmino is a player who likes to keep his passes short, snappy and with the intention of creating an opportunity for his teammates (58% of his passes were forward this season). Last season he created an average of just over one chance per game. He can create centrally or from the wide areas. This is supported by his 59 key passes made this season, bagging 11 assists. He created 70 chances for his team.
Shooting – Firmino likes to get a shot in whenever possible, from inside the box but also from outside and around the edge of the box. You will often see him let a shot go after beating his man or getting on the end of a lay off inside or around the edge of the box. This season he had 39 shots on target and 23 shots blocked in the Bundesliga. A shot conversion rate of 23%, getting 16 goals in the German league.
Work rate/ethic – This is one of the parts of his game that separates him from the majority of flair players and number 10’s. Firmino puts in a shift every single game, both on the ball and off it. He will roam around the pitch off the ball to create space for others and get into attacking areas, he’ll carry the ball forward when needed but he will also work very hard to win the ball back, close down and put pressure on opponents. Most of Firmino’s tackles some deep in the opponents half which show how effectively he works to win the ball back quickly to spring attacks. Firmino is perfect for Brendan Rodgers in this regard.
Versatility – Firmino’s main position is behind the striker, as a number 10 if you like. However he will put in equally good performances on either wing and even up top as a number 9, but maybe more of a false 9.
Aerial duels – While Firmino can arrive late in the box to score headed chances, he isn’t the best at winning the ball in an aerial challenge. Last season he only won 69 or his 206 aerial duels which isn’t very good for a player who isn’t what you would call short. However given his work rate, hunger and height he has the potential to make good improvements on this.
Overall I think Firmino would be an incredible player for Liverpool, he would add to the pace, hunger and relentless dynamic nature of LFC’s attack. His versatility and work rate make him a player who will always have a place in your side and this would make it a very worthwhile investment. Firmino reportedly has a release clause of £16-17m which would be a very fair fee for a player who can become one of the most effective players in the game.
Below I have attached some match highlights of Roberto Firmino, enjoy! – Ben