Roberto Firmino will leave Liverpool in the summer, but there is a strong possibility that two others may follow
Kopites will be pinching themselves, wondering whether what happened on Sunday evening was real.
Liverpool supporters could not have imagined such a resounding victory over one of their most ferocious rivals.
Highlights from Manchester United’s 7-0 thrashing would have been watched numerous times. Every goal scored will have been celebrated as if it were the first time they saw it. Ignorance was heaped on Erik ten Hag, while Jurgen Klopp’s men etched another page into Anfield history.
Despite being the least significant goal, celebrations for Roberto Firmino’s goal were the loudest. It had already been revealed that the Brazil international had decided to leave Anfield at the conclusion of his contract in June. After he scored Liverpool’s seventh goal as a replacement, the crowd exploded in celebration of a player who will go down as a modern-day great.
Actually, following the final whistle, Klopp revealed that Firmino will depart the club after eight years. The first departure from what is already shaping up to be a key summer transfer window has been confirmed.
Only hours before, the Liverpool manager had dropped two more summer transfer hints based on his United squad choices.
Arthur Melo was trapped between injured duo Thiago Alcantara and Luis Diaz, who were watching from just behind the substitutes. Despite having been back in training for nearly a month, the Brazilian was once again left out of the Reds’ match-day squad.
Arthur has now missed five Premier League games since recovering from a major thigh injury. After joining Liverpool on a season-long loan from Juventus on the summer transfer deadline day, the midfielder has only made one 13-minute substitute appearance.
He had to have surgery in October, which ruined his prospects of making an impression on Merseyside.
Arthur recently appeared for the under-21s in a 7-1 victory over Leicester. On the same day, Klopp’s team drew 0-0 at Crystal Palace. Unfortunately, he has been deemed surplus to needs in the two successive games, against Wolves and United.
When the transfer window opens, Liverpool has the option of paying £32 million for Arthur. Not that it wasn’t already obvious, but based on recent decisions, that option will not be exercised.
Arthur was not the only midfielder who did not play versus United. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was left out due to the return of Curtis Jones. In four of the previous five games, the 29-year-old was not named as a substitute.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has returned to the periphery of things after making five consecutive appearances since the season resumed following the World Cup. Acquired for £35 million from Arsenal in 2017, he looks set to leave at the end of his contract.
The exclusion of Naby Keita against United may be more complicated. The Guinea international missed Wolves’ win due to an injury and may have still been bothered by a niggle. Keita is another player that has been linked with a free transfer to Barcelona. If he is not included in the squad for the trip to Bournemouth, that could be another sign.