Transfer Balls: Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino supported Manchester United in a house made of cheese
What do we know of Liverpool’s newest player Roberto Firmino Barbosa de Oliveira? Not much.
We know that in January 2011 Bundesliga club Hoffenheim signed Brazilian Firmino for €4m. And he scores around one goal every three games.
While we await the news that Firmino grew up supporting Manchester United, preferred Brookside to EastEnders and enjoys long walks on the beach, writing in the Times, Tony Evans nails it:
So, it is in many ways both inevitable and understandable that the decision to make Firmino the second-most expensive player in the club’s history behind Andy Carroll is greeted with suspicion. When you have a reputation for buying badly, you cannot complain if the idea that you might have bought well does not immediately take hold.
That Firmino is something of an unknown quantity might add mystique to the deal, but beyond the exotic and the YouTube videos that make most players look good, a lack of knowledge leads many to ask how Liverpool could have paid £29 million for a player they do not even know.
All of that, though, remains moot. Beyond the sizeable minority of Bundesliga addicts who have tuned in to watch Hoffenheim games and kept abreast of Firmino’s progress in Germany, it is impossible for the rest of us to pass any kind of judgment on the 23-year-old. All we can do is wait and see.
But journalists at other newspapers feel a need to look like they know about Firmino.
What he does provide, though, is an unrelenting work ethic. In that respect, he is similar to Luis Suárez and Alexis Sánchez. He will harry and press the opponents until he drops. In one match report in Germany he was described as the “clever, first stealer of balls in Hoffenheim’s pressing system”.
For £29m he runs about a lot and can tackle. A steal, then.
The fee is eye-watering considering it is almost as much as Chelsea paid for Diego Costa and more (with add-ons) than Arsenal paid for Sánchez. But there is no doubt that he is an extremely talented young player who is still improving. There will be few defences in the Premier League looking forward to an afternoon battling Philippe Coutinho, Firmino and Daniel Sturridge – if fit.
The Daily Mirror has a scoop: Firmino has tattoos. It says other Liverpool players also have tattoos.
Jack Lang notes:
His mother, Cícera, recently told a local TV station that she would often catch the youngster sleeping with his ball, and that he would often sneak out of the house – sometimes as early as 5am – to practice. His nickname as a child was rachinha – “kick-about”.
And, of course, he’s better than Raheem Sterling:
“Maybe it’s a lot of money, but Liverpool are going to get the funds from Raheem Sterling going to Manchester City – I hear he’s going for something ridiculous like £50m,” Grobbelaar told talkSPORT.
“If Liverpool do get Firmino you are looking at half the cost for a player very similar to Sterling and at least he is scoring a lot more goals than him – he might be a signing we need.”
The Metro says Firmino has a rubbish website:
Roberto Firmino is in line for a big pay-day after finalising his move to Liverpool – so he can probably now afford a better website than the one he’s currently got.
www.robertofirmino.com basically tells you everything you could ever want to know about the Brazilian – his background, stats, that he wants to play for Real Madrid or Barcelona…but there’s just one problem: it looks like a Year 8’s Myspace page.
The Mail says Firmino’s website is “super-cool”.
The Metro then produces 10 facts you never knew about whathisface. These facts turn out to be reviews of YouTube videos and Jamie Carragher tweeting that he’s not a clue who Firmino is.
The biggest and most obvious criticism of Raheem Sterling is his weaknesses in front of goal… something Roberto Firmino doesn not struggle with. Liverpool only managed to score 58 league goals last season, almost half of what they achieved the season before. With this fella, all that could be about to change.
But as one writer notes:
Firmino’s shot conversion rate from last season? 7.4%. He scored seven Bundesliga goals from 94 attempts; Sterling scored the same number from 84 shots. For a ‘born finisher’, he sure misses a lot.
Such are the facts.