The transfer window may have just closed a few weeks ago, but the speculation surrounding the futures of some of the biggest stars in the world continues to rumble on. One of the biggest rumours to come out recently is undoubtedly the one linking Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino to Bayern Munich on a £75m move in the summer.
Firmino has been an integral part of the Premier League champions-elect’s unbelievable season thus far, so it isn’t surprising that he’s garnered interest from one of the biggest teams in the world. However, it is a bit curious to see him linked with Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich, which doesn’t appear to be the most ideal destination for him considering their current situation.
Allow SBOTOP to break down all the ramifications of a potential Firmino-to-Bayern move from all angles.
Firmino a world-class talent
First of all, it’s important to reiterate that Firmino is a fantastic talent. Despite being criticised during his first few years in the Premier League for not being a “pure” goalscorer, he has gradually proven his worth as one of the best forwards in the league.
While his stats (8 goals, 7 assists in 25 league appearances this season) aren’t all that impressive for a top striker, he has still been so valuable as the focal point of Liverpool’s attack. He supplied three assists in Liverpool’s routine 4-0 win over Southampton.
Firmino’s ability to link the play between himself, fellow forwards Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, and the rest of the team has been absolutely crucial to the team’s success over the past few seasons. With this unique skill set, Firmino is among Liverpool’s most important players.
Firmino not a perfect fit at Bayern
Given all his positive attributes, it’s not hard to see why Bayern might have interest in Firmino. The Brazilian also spent five seasons at Hoffenheim before his move to the Premier League, so adjusting to the Bundesliga should not be an issue. Although, there are some questions as to what Firmino’s role in Bayern might be.
The German champions already have their own talismanic No. 9 in Robert Lewandowski. Even at 31, Lewandowski is having one of the best seasons of his career. He’s still banging in the goals and has already scored 22 goals in 21 appearances, which is a big reason why Bayern are once again the main title favourites according to the Bundesliga 2020 predictions.
Firmino, 28, is only three years younger than Lewandowski, so he doesn’t exactly fit the bill as a long-term replacement. So unless Bayern plan to move on from Lewandowski soon — which seems unlikely given his fine form this season — Firmino could find himself sitting on the Bayern bench for the foreseeable future. For someone in the prime years of his career, that’s not ideal.
Moreover, getting Firmino as the main Lewandowski replacement would have its own issues. For all of his talents, Firmino is not the man you’d want to succeed such a prolific striker like Lewandowski. His strike rate at Hoffenheim (38 goals in 140 appearances) wasn’t great, and that hasn’t improved in the Premier League (56 goals in 162 appearances).
As mentioned earlier, he works best in Liverpool as a facilitator while playing alongside goalscoring wide forwards like Salah and Mane. Firmino contributes with his share of goals, but expecting him, Serge Gnabry, Thomas Muller, and Kingsley Coman to make up for Lewandowski’s goals might be too big of an ask.
Of course, it’s not a stretch to see Firmino playing alongside Lewandowski. He could line up behind the Pole, who has limited his link-up play as he’s gotten older and has transitioned into more of an exclusive goalscoring centre-forward.
But it remains to be seen whether Firmino can be quite as effective playing in that role, which won’t have quite as much fluidity due to Lewandowski’s declining mobility.
Would Liverpool really sell Firmino?
There is a strong, logical case to be made for Liverpool moving on from Firmino in the summer. He is the oldest of their front three, which has been together for some time now. His transfer value is unlikely to be much higher than it is right now, so if Liverpool plan to refresh their squad, cashing in on Firmino would be a good way to finance a move for another top striker such as Leipzig’s Timo Werner.
And as integral as Firmino has been to Liverpool’s style of play, manager Jurgen Klopp also deserves credit for designing that system to Firmino’s strengths. If they were to move on from the Brazilian, Klopp would simply do the same with his replacement.
However, there is an equally strong, primarily sentimental case to keep this squad intact, especially after what has been a historic — and likely title-winning — campaign.
But as Liverpool’s owners, Fenway Sports Group, reminded Boston Red Sox fans when they traded away their superstar player Mookie Betts primarily for financial reasons, sports is a business and there is little room for sentiment. As great a servant as Firmino has been to Liverpool, everyone is still expendable at the end of the day.
If Bayern want Firmino badly enough and are willing to meet Liverpool’s price, they may very well get their man. But if they do, it’s not a complete certainty that Firmino can be the same game-changing force he’s been at Liverpool.