Liverpool will be actively trying to tie Roberto Firmino down to a new contract and his Community Shield role may have been a clear signal, one pundit has said.
The Brazilian has played a vital role throughout manager Jurgen Klopp’s tenure but now his influence is under scrutiny. He has one year left on his contract and, unlike elsewhere in Liverpool’s front line, he has been largely out of the spotlight.
Indeed, Mohamed Salah and Diogo Jota have signed new contracts, while Sadio Mane has left for Bayern Munich.
Luis Diaz is looking to kick on from his explosive first half-season at Liverpool, with Darwin Nunez an even more recent arrival from Benfica.
Firmino may therefore expect to have a bit-part role this season, although he started and played 58 minutes of Saturday’s Community Shield win over Manchester City.
And former West Ham star Frank McAvennie hopes that his inclusion from Klopp is a sign of his importance. McAvennie also predicted Firmino to be in fresh contract talks.
“I hope so because he’s a good player but I wouldn’t read too much into it,” McAvennie told Football Insider of Klopp’s selection of Firmino.
“I would think Man City and Liverpool still treated that as a pre-season game. It’s got a bit more zip to it but it was still a nothing game.
“For the big teams it all starts at the weekend. Firmino is a good player and he’ll get a game wherever he goes to play. You put him on and you know what you’re getting from him.
“Klopp trusts him and that’s why I think they will be discussing a new contract. Klopp won’t want him to go, he’ll want him to stay.”
The German said last week that Firmino remains “crucial” for Liverpool. However, he refused to talk of his future beyond the new season.
Firmino must produce for Liverpool
And McAvennie warned that Firmino must produce for Liverpool – or lose his place.
“But he has to produce the goods every week, that’s what happens when you’re in a big team like Liverpool and he’ll know that. And if his standards drop, he will be out.
“For me, I wouldn’t read into him starting in the Community Shield, we’ll know more once the league starts.”
Firmino has played 328 games for Liverpool since his move from Hoffenheim in 2015.
Brazilian star on the way out
The most likely option for Firmino as it stands is for him to leave Liverpool as a free agent. But he can finish his Reds career with a fantastic milestone of 100 goals.
He could of course sign a new deal, but with the average of Liverpool’s front line now being pulled down by Nunez, 30-year-old Firmino is an outlier alongside Salah in being that bit older.
And the difference with Salah is that he is still at the forefront of Klopp’s plans and has therefore signed a new deal.
Can Liverpool really let go of another forward in Roberto Firmino?
Should Liverpool be considering letting go of the 30-year-old?
Firmino has not had the same impact, struggling last season with injury, and so Liverpool may well amicably agree to let the Brazilian leave as a free agent.
Nevertheless, he is two goals away from a century for Liverpool. Reaching that mark this term will cement his status as one of the architects of Klopp’s success.