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Roberto Firmino Liverpool career could change and see Brazilian debut new role

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Much has been made about Liverpool’s continued interest in RB Leipzig’s Timo Werner, but it’s hard to think of a time when signing such a world class player would be deemed a luxury.

Liverpool’s record-breaking season in the Premier League is hard to comprehend with everything that has happened, on the pitch and in the world, since the start of the 2019/20 season and it stands to reason that Jurgen Klopp’s side are one of the most efficient units in world football.

The Reds have become used to signing players who go on to make an impact at the top level in recent years. Almost all of Klopp’s signings have been roaring success stories, but signing Werner puts Liverpool in a very elite group of teams that sign players to become even better rather than out of necessity.

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For example, Manchester United signed Bruno Fernandes in January because they desperately needed someone to bring creativity in midfield. His arrival has so far been successful, though Liverpool’s links to Werner show just how far ahead the Reds are of their Premier League rivals right now.

In a bid to continue evolving and create a dynasty at Anfield, interest in Werner would appear to be the most significant change of Klopp’s attack so far. And whilst nothing is yet finalised, the forward’s possible move to Merseyside would likely cause a change to the way Liverpool set up going forward.

The 4-3-3 set-up has been a trusted and highly effective system over the past two seasons in particular, but continuing to remain unpredictable could see a 4-2-3-1 formation used more regularly if Werner joined.

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A key way in which that would change things for the current squad could see Firmino playing in a number 10 role with Werner joining Mohammed Salah and Sadio Mané in attack.

By lining up in a 4-2-3-1 shape, the creative outlet provided by the full-backs would be offered more passing targets with wide combinations, long passes in behind the defence and Firmino continuing as a central attacking option who pops up in pockets of space.

Now, we know from watching Liverpool over the last few years that they buck the trend in terms of chance creation and using an auxiliary number 10 in the mould of Kaka or Juan Roman Riquelme would be unlikely - in fact, its a role that has died out with increased use of a 4-3-3 for most successful sides in Europe over the last decade or two.

Instead, the use of Firmino in central areas suggests that Liverpool already have their number 10 who, mostly labeled as a false nine in a 4-3-3 system, might well have coined a new phrase as a false 10.

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The Brazilian’s ability to drop deep and create space for Salah and Mané is well documented, but the prospect of Werner joining them creates an entirely different role for Firmino.

He would mostly be free from goal-scoring responsibilities and, when you consider the shot volume of Salah and Werner, would be primarily tasked with providing them with shot-taking opportunities. Such a change to Firmino’s role probably wouldn’t look too dissimilar to his performances recently, but further options to play as the number 10 shows the luxury Klopp has created for himself.

The arrival of Timo Werner could prompt Klopp to tinker between a 4-3-3 and a 4-2-3-1 formation. (Image: Photo by Jan Woitas/Pool via Getty Images)

The German boss has spoken before about the strengths of Takumi Minamino and why he was signed by the club. His tactical awareness, ability to link play and create chances makes him a clear heir to Firmino’s role and functioning as a number 10 could alleviate some of the pressure associated with a goal-scoring role further forward.

Not only that, but Klopp has interesting attacking options in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita. For all of the creative excitement that they bring to Liverpool’s midfield on paper, it would probably be fair to see that neither player has found their most effective position in the side.

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Keita’s injuries woes have continued to the extent that Klopp has found it hard to put him back in the side whereas Oxlade-Chamberlain’s functional role across multiple positions means he is yet to become a regular in one sole area.

That said, Liverpool’s tendency to create specialist roles for players - see: Firmino, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Georginio Wijnaldum, et al. - means that they are in an incredibly healthy position going forward.

A change in formation with the introduction of Werner might well see a new number 10 role created: the false 10.

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