Roberto Firmino will reportedly join Real Madrid on a free transfer when his current terms with Liverpool expire at the end of June.
Spanish outlet El Nacional write that Los Blancos are keen to take the Brazilian striker on a Bosman, in a deal which mirrors their 1999 capture of Steve McManaman, another Reds favourite who rejected fresh terms at Anfield to move to the Spanish capital.
The reports will come as a blow to Jürgen Klopp and his coaching staff, who are said to be keen to try and persuade Firmino to stay for at least one more year. The 31 year old has lost some of the stamina that made him such an important cog in Klopp's gegenpressing system of years gone by, but retains the intelligence and composure to cause top teams problems.
Liverpool are in a transitional phase right now, with the club currently eighth in the Premier League table and likely to miss out on Champions League football next term. Klopp's side have been criticised for their lack of dynamism all year, with an ageing squad in desperate need of refreshment. Fans are calling on the German coach to let some of his stalwarts leave in order to make way for the next generation.
Having said that, Klopp is thought to be weary of dismantling his squad too quickly, and he sees Firmino as an important dressing room presence, whose performance levels could alleviate pressure on incoming players. The Reds boss already saw key man Sadio Mane leave in 2021 and is loathe to see another member of the once feared Mane-Firmino-Salah trident go.
Real Madrid see Firmino as a bargain option who could buy them some time in their pursuit of their next long-term No.9. Karim Benzema is now 35 and, despite consistently dazzling performances in the Champions League especially, cannot go on forever.
The Spanish giants retain hopes of bringing Kylian Mbappe to the Bernabeu but appreciate it could be a couple of years before that's doable. Bobby could be the perfect stopgap recruitment.
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