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Roberto Firmino: Ending Liverpool’s lacklustre recent history of number 9s

Roberto Firmino: Ending Liverpool’s lacklustre recent history of number 9s

Following the departure of Fernando Torres to Chelsea in January 2011, the six-time champions of Europe endured a troubled spell in seeking to replace their Spanish talisman. That said, the arrival of Roberto Firmino has seemingly put an end to Liverpool’s recent No.9 struggles. So, let’s look back at the Reds’ recent history regarding their No.9 jersey.

The task of replacing El Nino

Prior to Firmino being handed the number that was previously worn by club legends, such as Ian Rush and Robbie Fowler, Liverpool’s four previous holders of the jersey failed to live up to expectations. While for some, this was down to on-field tactics, others were never really given the opportunity to showcase their talents.

After Torres left Anfield, the Reds signed Andy Carroll from Newcastle United for £35 million in the same January transfer window. The six-foot-five striker, however, would fail to replicate the world-class form of his predecessor, scoring just six Premier League goals for the Reds in 44 appearances. However, when the Gateshead-born striker left Liverpool, the No.9 jersey was assigned to Iago Aspas for the 2013-14 season.

Of the players to have been given the honor of wearing the famous shirt, the now 32-year-old Spaniard appeared the most likely to succeed. However, having only been given 378 minutes of league football under Brendan Rodgers, Aspas returned to Spain just one year after moving to Merseyside.

Subsequently, after Aspas, the Reds went in a new direction as they sought to bolster their squad following the pending departure of their at-the-time talisman, Luis Suárez, who joined Barcelona in July 2014 for £75 million. As a result, Kirby-born Rickie Lambert, who arrived from Southampton that same summer, was given the No.9 shirt, but his spell at Liverpool didn’t prove fruitful. Finally, in 2015, Christian Benteke was given the opportunity, yet he became something of a victim of Rodgers’ sacking and the arrival of Jurgen Klopp.

Firmino has stepped up to the plate

As showcased by the above names, the Reds endured a spell of failing to replace their Spanish No.9 that lasted for almost seven years. However, the appointment of their current manager, Klopp, would prove to be the catalyst for Firmino’s development. Despite being highly criticized, Liverpool’s infamous transfer committee can feel somewhat vindicated as a result of the 28-year-old’s progression.

Upon being deployed in a central position under Liverpool’s 53-year-old manager, the Brazilian has thrived. Because of this, Firmino was awarded the No.9 jersey for the 2017-18 campaign after previously holding the No.11. Fundamentally, the decision appears to have ended the long-awaited search for El Nino’s true predecessor.

In the first two complete seasons that Firmino adopted the No.9 shirt, he scored a combined total of 27 goals, as per his Premier League profile. Additionally, the former Hoffenheim attacker also provided 13 assists. Importantly, the Brazilian’s selflessness is one of the main reasons that both Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane have flourished in front of goal during the 2019-20 season, with the Egyptian 6/1 to claim his third golden boot with football betting, as of June 22nd.

Loved by the Anfield faithful

Ultimately, given that Firmino has been at the very heart of Liverpool’s recent success, he’s now undoubtedly perceived as a fan favorite. Although, in their own right, the players between the Brazilian and Torres weren’t below-par footballers, the Anfield faithful never really took to them. However, the same unquestionably can’t be said for their current No.9.

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Roberto Firmino: Ending Liverpool’s lacklustre recent history of number 9s