Jurgen Klopp dropped two more Liverpool transfer hints hours before confirming first summer exit.
Roberto Firmino will leave Liverpool in the summer but a big hint has been dropped that two are likely to follow.
Kopites will still be pinching themselves and wondering if that really happened on Sunday evening.
Not beyond their wildest fantasies did supporters believe Liverpool would triumph so emphatically against one of their most fierce rivals.
Highlights of the 7-0 routing of Manchester United would have been watched umpteen times. Every goal scored will have been celebrated just like it was the first time they were witnessing it. Ignominy was piled on Erik ten Hag’s side, while Jurgen Klopp’s troops etched another page into the Anfield history books.
Despite it being the least important, celebrations for Roberto Firmino’s goal were the most vociferous. It had emerged days earlier that the Brazil international had decided he’ll depart Anfield at the end of his contract in June. After he lashed home Liverpool’s seventh during a substitute cameo, the stadium erupted with pure joy towards a player who’ll go down as a modern-day great.
Indeed, Klopp confirmed at the full-time whistle that Firmino will leave the club after eight years. The first exit of what is already regarded as a pivotal summer transfer window has been confirmed.
Yet only hours earlier, when the teams were released, the Liverpool boss had dropped two more summer transfer hints based on his squad selection for United.
As injured duo Thiago Alcantara and Luis Diaz watched from just behind the substitutes, Arthur Melo was sandwiched in between. Despite being back in training for the best part of a month, the Brazilian was again omitted from the Reds’ match-day squad.
It’s now five Premier League matches Arthur hasn’t been used by Klopp since overcoming a serious thigh injury. Arriving on a season-long loan from Juventus on summer transfer deadline day, the midfielder has managed just one 13-minute substitute cameo for Liverpool.
He was forced to undergo surgery in October, which wrecked his chances of making an impact on Merseyside.
Arthur recently made an outing for the under-21s in a 7-1 win over Leicester. That was on the same day as Klopp’s side’s 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace. However, in the subsequent two matches, against Wolves and United, he’s been surplus to requirements.
Liverpool have the option of purchasing Arthur for £32 million come to the transfer window. Not that it wasn’t already clear but that option will not be activated judging by recent decision-making.
Arthur wasn’t the only midfielder not in the squad against United. With Curtis Jones back involved, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was left out. The 29-year-old has not been included among the substitutes in four of the previous five matches.
After making five successive appearances immediately after the restart of the season following the World Cup, Oxlade-Chamberlain finds himself firmly back on the periphery of things. Signed for £35 million from Arsenal in 2017, a departure at the end of his contract looks highly likely.
The omission of Naby Keita against United may not be as straightforward. The Guinea international was absent from the Wolves win with a knock so may have still felt a niggle. Keita’s another who is out of contract, having been linked with a free transfer to Barcelona. Should he be left out for the trip to Bournemouth, it may be another clear indication.