Is there a more divisive player in the Premier League right now than Roberto Firmino?
On his day, the Brazilian is a fabulous ball of creative fun. He can beat opponents, pick out his teammates and sometimes even score as well.
He is not the archetypal striker and instead plays in a much deeper role accustomed to that of a false 9 or a centre forward.
For some teams, he wouldn't offer enough. After all, he didn't score at Anfield for a whole year and also found the back of the net on just nine occasions in the top-flight last season.
Based on that, it's incredibly impressive to think that Liverpool still managed to win the league with a forward who scores so few goals. However, it's vital to remember the contributions of Mo Salah and Sadio Mane.
They are the main goalscorers in this team and are able to beat the goalkeeper with great regularity. The dynamic duo are two of the best players in England's top division and have scored a total of 185 Liverpool goals between them.
However, for now, our focus is on Firmino. For someone who struggles to stand out next to Salah and Mane, he certainly gets his fair share of attention.
Only this week, pundit Tony Cascarino essentially labelled him a problem, saying: "His lack of productivity in front of goal is placing a huge burden on Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. Should this goal drought continue, Firmino cannot afford the creative side of his game to slip."
So, when will Liverpool bite the bullet and sign a new striker? Of course, finding someone to replace the injured Virgil van Dijk will be their first priority, but who could they buy if they wanted someone to succeed the Brazil international?
Fortunately, Twitter user @Tw3rcazette put together a thread to come up with Liverpool's perfect replacement.
For starters, they compiled a list of similar teams to Liverpool based on a certain number of metrics. This was in order to get a feel for who might fit the style of Jurgen Klopp's side.
Following on from that, he discovered that both Atalanta and Bayern Munich were 98% matches, while Juventus came in at 94%.
What was next? Well, finding the corresponding players from these clubs.
In order to so, the Twitter user looked at a very specific set of stats:
- Avg pass length
- % of touches in bottom/mid/final 3rd
- dribbles, passes, carries and shots p/ touch
- % of passes that are short/med/long/key/into box/progressive
- Tkls/ints/press's p90
After narrowing things down to that, this was the first set of players they came across.
What was then considered, was the impact score of each individual player. Thus, helping us to narrow the search down to the best five players possible that Liverpool could target.
This is what came of it.
What the person then did was rank those five options based on viability, financial and overall ability factors.
Christian Pulisic came in at five, purely because he'd never leave Chelsea and the sum of money would be astronomical. In at four was Nicolo Zaniolo, who was described as a big no because of two ACL injuries.
This is where things started to get juicy. Christopher Nkunku was in at number three, but it was cited as being 'too early' for him to lead the line at Liverpool.
So who was second and first I hear you ask? Well, Joao Felix finished as the unlucky runner-up with @Tw3rcazette saying: "He has the full package to be Firmino's successor at Liverpool."
However, there was one that reigned supreme over everyone else.
This certainly makes sense. Paulo Dybala's position on Transfermarkt is quite literally down as a 'second striker' while he has goals and creativity in abundance.
Last term, the £72m-rated Juventus attacker scored 17 goals while helping himself to 14 assists in the process.
Not only is he the creative player that Klopp loves, but he also knows where the back of the net is.
It's clear to see why he'd be such a perfect replacement for Firmino at Liverpool.
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