Roberto ‘Bobby’ Firmino has been a crucial member of the Liverpool team ever since Jurgen Klopp arrived at Merseyside. His role has always been underrated, playing as the ‘false nine’ and not a traditional striker by facilitating the forward play, linking up the play with the wingers Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, dropping deep to collect the ball and being the presser-in-chief.
His profile is unique, almost irreplaceable and players like him are rare in the current football market.
He has been important in the side that won the Champions League, the Premier League and other trophies. But he is 29 now and his levels have considerably dropped from previous seasons, especially the 2017-18 season which was arguably his best. He would be far better utilized if he is not a starter and even as an impact sub.
We will be looking at five forwards who have the potential to successfully replace him.
#5 Diogo Jota
The in-house option, Jota has been exceptional the moment he was signed from Wolverhampton Wanderers last season. He scored 9 in 19 Premier League games as his season was hampered by injuries and 4 in 9 Champions League games where notably he scored a hat-trick away at Atalanta.
He is a pressing monster, according to Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders, a clinical finisher and started Liverpool’s first Premier League game away at Norwich and scored the Merseyside club’s first league goal this season.
If Jota indeed is the Firmino replacement, then Liverpool would have to look at signing wingers with Stade Rennais’s Jeremy Doku and RB Salzburg’s Karim Adeyemi linked the most according to many reports.
#4 Alexander Isak
The Swede was always tipped for a big future ever since he was at AIK. He is even likened to compatriot and legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
His move to Borussia Dortmund did not work out but he has been smashing it at Real Sociedad in La Liga, scoring 17 goals last season, with his initial loan move to the White and Blues now turned into a permanent one.
He is tall and quite physical but is also fairly rapid at the same time. He is a good dribbler and was Sweden’s main player at Euro 2020.
He will take his game to a whole new level if he links up with Jurgen Klopp.
#3 Victor Osimhen
A player who was linked to Liverpool before signing for Napoli, Osimhen is a superb striker who can play as a traditional striker while facilitating play as a false nine.
The Nigerian was good for Lille before moving to Napoli in a controversial move where the full fee is still not clear.
He scored 10 goals in 24 Serie A games as his season was marred by injuries and Covid. His underlying attacking (95th and 90th percentiles for total shots and non-penalty expected goals) and pressure (84th percentile) numbers are great according to stats taken from Fbref.
Osimhen has started this season strongly and would be a solid coup for the Reds.
#2 Joao Felix
Ever since his move from Benfica to Atletico Madrid for a transfer fee of €126 million (£113 million), the Portuguese has been underwhelming.
Diego Simeone’s rigid system and disciplined football certainly do not help Felix’s cause. He is a player that thrives when given the license and can facilitate free-flowing football, something which he cannot at the Madrid club. He now has to compete directly with new arrivals Antoine Griezmann and Matheus Cunha for a place in the starting line-up.
If he is Firmino’s chosen successor he can play in a much attacking side with a license to express his skills but would have to do the pressing and necessary defensive work too.
#1 Amine Gouiri
One of the favourites to replace Liverpool number 9, Gouiri has been a revelation since his move to OGC Nice from Olympique Lyon.
He has even been compared to Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema. Like Firmino he can link forward play and even drop deep if needed. He scored 12 goals in 34 league appearances last season, while he racked up 4 goals in 5 appearances in the Europa League.
No doubt he will be one of the beneficiaries of Christophe Galtier’s arrival at the Riviera club. He can hone his skills in playing as one of the forwards in Galtier’s 4-4-2 formation alongside the resurgent Kasper Dolberg.
His numbers, according to Fbref, are very promising. His defensive numbers are unusually high for an attacker (81st, 93rd and 88th percentiles for tackles, interceptions and blocks) which makes him perfect for Liverpool.
Gouiri has started the season on fire and already has 4 goals in 4 Ligue 1 appearances. He will be a genius Firmino replacement.