Roberto Firmino's departure was an inevitability. His talent was too big for the Bundesliga and the Premier League's bank balance was too tempting, but the move leaves everyone a winner says Jonathan Harding.
The sadness Bundesliga and Hoffenheim fans face this morning will be comforted by a few wry smiles. A reported 41 million euros makes Roberto Firmino the most expensive Bundesliga player ever. As talented as the 23-year-old is and as great as his potential might be, this fee is too high. 15-20 million would have been more representative, but that's what billion-pound TV deals will get you.
What has the league lost? Well, yet another talented player, approaching the peak years of his career, has been lured by the flashy lights and deep pockets of the Premier League. The Bundesliga, by nature, is a league where the talent is planted, grows, but rarely blossoms. Other than Bayern Munich, and occasionally Dortmund and Wolfsburg, cash is not flashed in the Bundesliga. For the time being, the Bundesliga is trying to keep its policy, making Firmino's departure an inevitable.
Most regularly deployed in the 10, Firmino's flair, vision in the final third and goals were a key reason behind Hoffenheim stabilizing themselves as a top-10 team. He had a tendency to over dribble when he arrived, but he has undertaken Ronaldo-like development by fine tuning his skills. His finishing and one-on-one ratio are both better. Be ware, he doesn't do defending but that's perhaps one of the reasons Brazil liked him and have kept calling him back. His absence will be notable next season, for both the league and Hoffenheim, but this has been long foreseen by TSG and both they and Head Coach Markus Gisdol are ready to keep the ship steady.
Having bought Firmino for a modest four million euros four years ago, Hoffenheim can certainly put into place the club's long-prepared plans. Now is the time to push on for a European spot. With a strong youth academy in place and captain Kevin Volland staying on for another year, the departure of Firmino has been softened. This income, wisely invested, will likely tip the scales in favor of securing a European spot next season.
So while the Premier League rightfully grows giddy over a Brazilian talent matured in Germany who will sell jerseys and embarrass opponents, the Bundesliga continues to marvel at the reckless spending power of the British Isles' domestic league and Hoffenheim are happy with an investment that turned over a huge profit. All in all, it's a deal that works for everyone, so long as Firmino gets his chance to excel of course.