Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino has reportedly agreed to join Saudi Pro League club Al-Ahli this summer as a free agent.
That’s according to transfer expert Fabrizio Romano, who reports that Liverpool fan favourite Roberto Firmino is set to join Al Ahli.
A full verbal agreement has been reached with the Saudi Pro League side, with the Brazil international joining as a free agent on a three-year contract until 2026. The 31-year-old will travel to Saudi Arabia to undergo his medical before the deal becomes official.
The Brazil international has come to the end of his contract at Anfield and bid an emotional farewell to Reds fans at the end of last season. Having joined the Reds from TSG Hoffenheim in 2015 for £29 million, Firmino became a fan favourite during his eight years at the club.
In total, he racked up 111 goals and 79 assists in 362 appearances for the Reds, forging a formidable attacking trio with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. Liverpool won several trophies with Firmino in the team, including the Champions League, Premier League, and FA Cup.
The Brazilian ace fell down the pecking order following the arrivals of forwards Luiz Diaz, Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez, and Diogo Jota. Jurgen Klopp still wanted to keep him at Anfield due to his vast experience. But Liverpool allowed him to leave, with a new chapter in Saudi Arabia now looking likely for him.
Firmino had interest from Real Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan and Galatasaray, but decided to snub a potential European stay to join the ambitious Saudi Pro League project this summer as they continue to throw out huge salaries to attract elite-level players.
The former Hoffenheim man becomes the latest Premier League star to leave Europe for the Gulf nation. N’Golo Kante, Kalidou Koulibaly, and Ruben Neves have already made this switch after receiving lucrative contract offers.
He would not be alone at the newly-promoted Saudi club, with former Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy also joining him at Al-Ahli after the latter was deemed surplus to requirements at Chelsea.
Cristiano Ronaldo started the Saudi trend following his move to Al Nassr from Manchester United, signing a lucrative contract. His former Real Madrid teammate Karim Benzema then followed in his footsteps as he joined reigning champions Al-Ittihad this summer.
Since then, the Saudi clubs have been aggressive in their approach to signing talented and experienced players from Europe, with the likes of Riyad Mahrez, Son Heung-min, Bernardo Silva, Marcelo Brozovic, and Thomas Partey strongly linked with a move to Saudi Arabia.
As far as Liverpool are concerned, it feels like the end of a beautiful era, with Sadio Mane leaving Anfield last summer and now Firmino following suit. The Reds also released Naby Keita, James Milner, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from their fringe cast earlier this summer.
Make no mistake, Firmino’s presence will be sorely missed in attack, and a strong season from the likes of Jota, Gakpo, and Nunez will be needed to step up their game and become more established stars in the upcoming 2023/24 season.