Roberto Firmino has become a listless Liverpool forward whose £29m fee is suddenly a burden

Liverpool’s wretched 0-0 draw with FC Sion was another timely showcase for suddenly redundant Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino to showcase his disappearing act. Desmond Kanewonders what’s gone wrong with the club’s much-vaunted summer signing from Hoffenheim.
For £29m, it surely has to be better than this. Roberto Firmino has remarkably gone from firm favourite to apparently infirm in just over a fortnight. Studying his menacing man-of-the match gait in Liverpool’s 4-1 win gutting ofManchester City on November 21 compared to his invisible man act in the 2-0 defeat at Newcastle United in the Premier League on Sunday followed by the turgid nature of his output in Thurday’s 0-0 draw with FC Sion in the Europa, one wonders if his body has been taken over by supernatural forces. Or if this was just his doppelgänger.
Not so much spirit possession, just no possession. Or no real spirit when you come to think it of it Roberto’s living shell. As has been asked elsewhere about Roberto’s Swiss miss, are you really Bruno Cheyrou in disguise?
Alongside Philippe Coutinho, Firmino was in his element at the Etihad Stadium against City scoring and leading the home side a merry dance, but life does not seem so joyous since those glory days of threee weekso. Firmino simply resembles a Brazilian who will suit himself when he fancies. There has been a few over them over the years in British climes, but such a sharp decline is bordering upon remarkable.
Outposts like Newcastle and Sion in the bleak midwinter are not really joints for circus acts, but then neither was the Etihad and he seemed to survive that short jaunt from his new chilly home of Liverpool in England’s North West.
In mitigation, £32.5m Christian Benteke was impersonating Mario Balotelli in Geordieland as the reality of Liverpool’s Premier League title challenge was rumbled by a Newcastle lot who had been occupying bottom spot in the Premier League rung before the home side’s defence realised they were facing a couple of costly imposters.
Everybody is allowed a bad game now and again, but one had to applaud the Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp for sticking by Firmino for the trip to deepest Switzerland a fortnight before Christmas only to be rewarded with a distinctly unseasonal performance. A joyless old affair that was not really up Firmino’s street, but when a club has lavished such money and expectations upon your shoulders, the fans are entitled to see you move quicker than rust.AFP
There was a moment after half-time when Firmino completely miscontrolled a pass through the middle, almost like he had just enrolled on an early touches class. At least it let the watching public back home know that he was still on the pitch. There are men in bare feet back in Brazil who appeared to have a better first touch than Roberto last night.
It is interesting that while Firmino, with one goal in 12 outings, was freezing over in Switzerland, the farmed out Lazar Markovic was scoring against Celticelsewhere in the Europa League as Fenerbahce docked in the last 32 of the competition with a 1-1 draw against the Scottish champions.
Celtic’s defence is as reliable as Daniel Sturridge’s state of fitness, but he still displayed a voracious appetite to impress himself upon the visiting side and wound up piercing. Which is a lot more than be said for Firmino or Benteke unearthing less movement than Statler and Waldorf.
The former Liverpool forward John Aldridge berated Firmino’s contribution against Newcastle, citing an incident when he withdrew from a challenge against Steven McClaren’s team.
“Firmino is playing as if something is wrong, mentally and physically,” said Aldrige in his column with the Liverpool Echo.
“He’s been absolutely redundant the last two games after such a great display at Man City. It can’t just be the fact his mate Coutinho has been missing. Firmino was the missing link and things improved when Adam Lallana, who played well, came on. It was like chalk and cheese.”
“The Brazilian also pulled out of a challenge that was 55-45 in his favour. Liverpool fans won’t accept that. I’ve been going for 50 years and I know it’s unacceptable.
Should Firminho should start against West Bromwich on Sunday? Judging be recent ghoulish goings on, the answer has to be a firmino.
Godspeed, Robert. Reports of your recent demise have not been greatly exaggerated.

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