Roberto Firmino poses the hardest Liverpool contract dilemma as Jürgen Klopp must clarify plan


Liverpool contract dilemmas 2023: When it comes to the club future of Roberto Firmino, much hinges on how Jürgen Klopp envisages his future evolution.

Liverpool are in the throes of a contract crisis. Mohamed Salah is dominating the headlines, but Jürgen Klopp faces five headaches as the 2023 apocalypse draws ever nearer.

Having handled Naby Keïta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain over the previous two days, will now really get into the heart of the matter. In Roberto Firmino, the club might just have the trickiest contract dilemma of the lot.

On its face, the Brazilian’s situation looks like the easiest to resolve. After all, he is the oldest of all the players up for renewal: typical FSG logic would dictate that he is allowed to leave, making way for the next generation. In Diogo Jota, his successor may well be at the club already.

However, the owners showed their willingness to make exceptions last summer when they handed a new deal to Jordan Henderson, more than a year Firmino’s senior. This supposedly followed a Klopp intervention: the manager has since handed his captain more appearances than anyone else this season, so the bar for such an extraordinary intervention is set at a high level. Nonetheless, Firmino can make a case for one.

For the first time in three seasons, Firmino is outperforming his expected goals this season. The miss against Nottingham Forest was a reminder to fans that he will still never be the most clinical of strikers, but he has refound something of his goal-scoring touch. Perhaps it is no coincidence that this has come from a more regular role as a substitute — a transition that Henderson himself is also making.

Equally, the 30-year-old has never been in the Liverpool side primarily for his goal-scoring. His off-the-ball work is second to none, and it remains the case that he is probably the least replaceable player in the traditional Klopp attack. Jota has the pressing volume, but still lacks the same pressing intelligence, and is far less involved in build-up play.