It is safe to say that Liverpool’s dip in form since the turn of the year is not just a result of the long term absence of players such as Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, but the lack of goals coming from up front and the lack of quality depth in the squad to make up for lost goals. Sadio Mane has seen his worst run of form this season since he joined the club but another player who has had a goal drought for some time now is Roberto Firmino.
The Brazilian has scored just six times for Liverpool this season, his worst run of form since he arrived at the club from Hoffenheim in 2015. Firmino was bought as an attacking midfielder but soon transitioned into the role we now know as the false nine under Jurgen Klopp.
Alongside scoring goals, he was also a huge part of Liverpool’s frontline firing as a whole providing important assists. Even when not bagging goals, the Brazilian’s absence was always noticeable and oftentimes threw Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah off their stride.
Although Roberto Firmino is still an intricate part of Jurgen Klopp’s side, his goal contribution is wavering by the season and unfortunately cannot be ignored. According to Wyscout statistics, The Brazilian forward has an xG (expected goals) of 0.37 this season, meaning he should have scored 12 goals in all minutes in which he played this season. But despite fans' desire for Liverpool to sign another striker, Firmino’s replacement may already be in the squad.
Recently speaking to Football Insider, former Leeds United striker Noel Whelan believes Diogo Jota is the perfect replacement for Roberto Firmino going forward. Jota signed for Liverpool in September of 2020 for a fee of up to 45 million pounds.
The Portuguese forward has immediately hit the ground running this season scoring 12 goals in 27 appearances. Jota’s season was somewhat cut short as he suffered a seven week spell on the sidelines returning last month.
In recent games it seems Diogo Jota has caught the shaky form of the team mates around him missing several clear opportunities in games. Like many players this is probably down to Liverpool’s poor form causing low confidence so it is unlikely Jota will stay in this rut for a long period.
The Portuguese international has proven that he is ready to step up to the plate and lead Liverpool into the future. Although he may not share all the same attributes as Roberto Firmino, Jota is a special player who after a short time will be able to make the same impact has Firmino made in the past.
This does not mean Roberto Firmino’s time at the club is at an end, if anything it is an opportunity for the Brazilian to play in another role that can still allow him to deliver important contributions. This has recently been shown with his involvement in midfield against Newcastle in a 1-1 draw.
Whatever lies ahead for Roberto Firmino in the future, it is clear that he can no longer have a consistent place in the front line and Diogo Jota must be given the chance to replace him up front. It is time for Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool to embrace the future and try something different rather than relying on the current formula that is slowly starting to unravel.