Liverpool could prioritise other deals and “balance the books” by selling one of the front three that fired them to the Premier League title, according to Alex McLeish.
All three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are out of contract in the summer of 2023. The triumvirate will forever hold a special place in Liverpool folklore after helping fire Lithem to their only Premier League title – so far.
The trio also helped secure their sixth European crown. Though in the current campaign in particular, they have rarely featured as a unit.
Indeed, Diogo Jota has interjected himself into the equation. The Portuguese is already producing a better goals-per-game ratio than Firmino ever did. Furthermore, Liverpool continue to be linked with younger forwards for next summer like Jarrod Bowen and Luis Diaz.
Firmino has also begun to struggle with injuries, though his contributions are still highly valued by Liverpool fans and Jurgen Klopp alike.
However, recent reports in the Spanish press have put Barcelona on his trail for next year. At that point, Firmino could have just 12 months remaining on his deal and a €20m (£16.7m) transfer has been touted.
Firmino future talks pencilled in
Sky Germany’s Florian Plettenberg stated Firmino’s future will come to the boil over the next few months. Talks have reportedly been scheduled that will determine his next course of action.
Of course, the likeliest scenario is that Liverpool simply hand Firmino a new contract and the Brazilian remains on Merseyside.
However, with new deals for Mane and Salah still outstanding, McLeish thinks it’s possible Firmino will be the sacrificial lamb as the Reds strive to keep their financial affairs in order. What’s more, if his game-time continues to diminish, he may seek a move away anyway.
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“The main man (Jurgen Klopp) in there knows these players from top to bottom,” McLeish told Football Insider when asked about the Barcelona speculation.
“We can only speculate and say that Liverpool may want to balance the books. Does Firmino want one last hoorah and seek new adventures? I guess if the player’s happy, he’ll stay at Liverpool. That’s what I feel.
“If he’s not, if he wants more gametime and he wants to go, those are things we don’t know. So I’m not about to say to Liverpool they should sell him. It’s one for them to decide. He’s been a terrific player.
“Sometimes not the greatest goal return but what a cog in the wheel of that magnificent team.”
Confirmed Liverpool move tees up West Ham deal
Meanwhile, Liverpool have recalled centre-back Rhys Williams in a move that has been tipped to spark a January agreement with West Ham.
Williams has been recalled early from his loan spell with Swansea after struggling for gametme. Swansea confirmed the news via their official website.
Williams’ recall had been predicted earlier this week to provide extra cover in Liverpool’s first-team defence. The Reds are well stocked at present, though Nat Phillips has emerged as a genuine target for West Ham.
The Liverpool Echo acknowledged West Ham’s interest in Phillips earlier this week and noted Williams’ impending return could pave the way for Phillips to leave. Jurgen Klopp previously suggested Phillips would not be loaned out this month, with any potential exit coming via the permanent route.
Liverpool are understood to be seeking around £15m for his signature. While that may sound steep for a back-up option, West Ham’s season could hinge on signing adequate depth at centre-back. Kurt Zouma and Angelo Ogbonna are both currently sidelined with significant injuries.
And with Williams now back and providing cover at Anfield, the path has cleared for West Ham to forge a deal with Phillips.