Completing their deal to sign Brazilian Roberto Firmino of Hoffenheim for £29 million means Liverpool are more than likely going to complete a deal with Manchester City, selling Raheem Sterling.
For how much? As English players are always overpriced, it seems City will be forced to pay something close to £50 million for Sterling, a 20-year old with 23 goals in 124 appearances for Liverpool and one goal in 16 caps for England. Too much? Just about right? Time usually says, but those are the rules of engagement these days.
Sterling has done everything possible to anger both the club and the fan base over the last couple of months. If there wasn’t anyone to step in for him maybe we would still be thinking he has a future with Liverpool, but now that Liverpool have reportedly beaten Manchester United, Dortmund and other for the 23 year-old attacking midfielder, someone has to make way.
And Sterling seems to fit the mold. Liverpool aren’t selling Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana and obviously not Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho. Not enough minutes to keep everyone happy, and Sterling wants to leave so bad. Firmino isn’t much of a wing player but has no problem playing in that slot, but mostly hovers behind the striker or a bit closer to the center midfield.
And if there was criticism over Sterling for not delivering numbers, Firmino should be the complete opposite, although it also means using players that complement him. He has seven goals and 10 assists in the Bundesliga last season. A year before he finished with 16 goals and 12 assists. No one has used more through balls than him last season.
Liverpool don’t need a big, heavy striker to make Firmino and Coutinho useful. They need Sturridge and at least one more striker who can slip past defenses and work between the gaps. Both Balotelli and Lambert made no sense last year in rather important roles.
Brendan Rodgers might be more involved with the transfers this season. He’s getting players sooner than last season. He’s getting the type of players he’s looking for. The time for excuses and talk about building a team is probably over. Liverpool aren’t done adding pieces to the puzzle yet, but it does feel like they’ve learnt from last year’s mistakes, and nothing but a top 4 finish will suffice 11 months from now.