“I’m not just saying this season.”
Jamie Carragher admits he is ‘worried’ that misfiring Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino will eventually be ‘phased out’ at Anfield.
The Brazilian, who alongside Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane has struck fear into the hearts of Premier League defenders in recent years, endured a difficult afternoon against Manchester United on Sunday.
The 29-year-old was guilty of lacking a decisive touch in the final third before being replaced by Divock Origi on the 85-minute mark.
Firmino has struck five times in the league for the champions this season, but while Carragher says he is confident that Mane and Salah will rediscover their best form, he is unsure over the South American’s long-term role under Jurgen Klopp.
“I am still confident Mane and Salah will start scoring goals again,” Carragher told Sky Sports.
“I must say I am worried for Firmino. He has never been seen as ‘the’ goalscorer. That is the responsibility of the other two, but he is there to chip in.
“When they are not scoring, he has to be a bigger goal threat.
“Yesterday, he had a couple of chances but did not quite strike the ball right.”
Carragher expanded on his point by arguing that other parts of Firmino’s game have dropped off, including his ability to press opponents and win the ball for Liverpool high up the pitch.
“Bringing others into the game has dropped off and the counter-pressing and winning the ball back has dropped off,” added Carragher.
Firmino has suffered a ‘massive drop off’
“I’m not just saying this season, I am going back to last season when Liverpool won the league. I was worried then, wondering could he turn it around.
“He is the one I am worried about more and if there is one to be phased out before the others, I probably think it would be Firmino.
“Sooner or later that front three will have to be broken up.
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“The goals have been steadily going down. What stands out as well is his possession numbers. It is a massive drop off. When he was not getting the goals and assists he was doing the other stuff, but it is a massive drop off.”
“He is the one I am worried about. Whether it be a lack of form or that slow decline as you get older, which is natural for any attacker when you get to the late 20s because they do not play as long as other players on football pitches.”