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25th Apr 2018

Liverpool fans should be worried about Roberto Firmino’s transfer release clause

They'd be disgusted to lose him for this price

Robert Redmond

Mohamed Salah is a genius and the best signing Liverpool have made since Luis Suarez.

The Egyptian has had a sensational season, approaching Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi levels of goalscoring and impact on matches. Salah deserves every accolade and award that comes his way this season. He scored his 42nd and 43rd goals of the campaign on Tuesday night in Liverpool’s 5-2 Champions League semi-final win over Roma at Anfield, and few would bet against him reaching 50 goals before the season ends.

Yet, for all of Salah’s brilliance, it could be argued that he’s not Liverpool’s most important player – that accolade belongs to Roberto Firmino. Jurgen Klopp’s side would not have reached the last four of the Champions League without Salah. But Salah would not have scored as many goals as he has without Firmino creating space for him to exploit.

The Brazilian assisted both of Salah’s goals against Roma and then got on the scoresheet twice in the second-half, one of them set-up by Salah. The pair play fantastically well together, and, along with Sadio Mane, are unstoppable at their best. Liverpool must do everything in their power to keep all three at the club, and there will surely be interest for Salah in the summer.

Fans of the club are possibly worried that the Egyptian will be the latest Liverpool star to leave for Barcelona, after losing Luis Suarez in 2014 and Philippe Coutinho earlier this year. However, there’s a chance that the long-term Liverpool future of Firmino, rather than Salah, could be in greater threat.

The Brazilian has a release clause in his contract that can be triggered if a club bids €98m (£83m) for him. (The only club that can’t trigger his release clause is Arsenal. This is because of a beef Liverpool owner John W. Henry has with the Gunners after they offered £1 above Suarez’s £40m release clause in 2013).

As transfer fees continue to inflate, this seems to be a reasonable price for Firmino, certainly more reasonable than the ludicrous fee of £142m that Barcelona paid for Coutinho in January. Klopp reportedly wasn’t too fussed about losing Coutinho for such a massive fee. But he wouldn’t want to lose Firmino at any price.

The German constantly praises Firmino. He has called him the team’s “engine” and the 26-year-old is vital to Klopp’s system. Firmino is Liverpool’s first and most effective defender, averaging over three tackles per game. He starts every press and carries out Klopp’s lung-busting tactics to a tee.

He also scores goals like a seasoned number nine. In 49 games this season, Firmino has scored 27 goals and is averaging a goal every 139 minutes he has been on the field – which is a better return than Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku, a traditional centre-forward, who has scored a goal every 148 minutes he has been on the pitch this season.

Firmino has also registered 16 assists and is the lynchpin of Liverpool’s fluid front-three, linking up play and bewitching opponents with his close control, trickery and movement.

So, the Brazilian is the key cog of Klopp’s tactical plan, a brilliant defensive player who scores like a centre-forward and links-up play like a number 10. It’s difficult to think of another top striker in Europe who currently ticks so many boxes, and is currently available for under €100m.

Firmino signed a five-year deal at Anfield when he arrived from Hoffenheim for £29m in 2015, and the club are reportedly preparing to offer him a new deal.

They certainly need to, because several top clubs in Europe, such as Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, could be in the market for a new forward in the summer, and Firmino has proven to be an elite player. Liverpool would be disgusted to lose him, especially for his current release clause.