Attacks good, now Liverpool need a star midfielder
The Firmino deal done, Liverpool must now move for a top midfielder
The big-money move for Roberto Firmino should come as a relief to Liverpool fans.
That it was done early in pre-season meant that there would be no repeat of the panic buying that took place in the final days of last summer's transfer window, when the hapless Mario Balotelli dashed through the Anfield turnstiles.
Secondly, the 23-year-old Brazilian, while no out-and-out striker, should add some much-needed class to a lightweight attack that proved to be their downfall in the previous term.
The arrival of young striker Danny Ings provides more depth to an offence that can now boast of a mouth-watering triumvirate of Firmino, Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge, with Ings, Balotelli and Divock Origi providing backup.
But there remains a big hole to plug in the engine room.
It was clear from last season, when Steven Gerrard's prowess went into rapid decline, that Liverpool sorely lack a midfield fulcrum, a launchpad for their attacking sorties.
The Reds have the orchestra. What they now need is a conductor.
Jordan Henderson has plenty of heart but lacks the cultured approach and technique to make a team dance to his tune.
Joe Allen clearly has his limitations.
Manager Brendan Rodgers doesn't seem to see the promising Emre Can as a possible successor to Gerrard, judging by his reluctance to plonk him into the midfield role when he had the chance to last season.
The industrious James Milner, who recently came on a free transfer, doesn't fit the bill either.
To get back among the Champions League places, Liverpool need a Galactico-potential signing to fill that position.
Juventus' Paul Pogba can certainly give them that much-needed boost, but while he's ideal, he will almost certainly seek greener pastures.
What Liverpool can't afford to do, however, is to stop trying to tussle for the big names. Neither can they shy away from making calculated gambles.
There are excellent midfield candidates in the market still.
Chile's Arturo Vidal, judging by his 2014 World Cup and ongoing Copa America exploits, appears to be hitting his prime.
Borussia Dortmund's Ilkay Gundogan is considered the heir apparent to Bastian Schweinsteiger in the German national team.
Belgium international Radja Nainggolan is highly prized, although he is apparently keen to stay with Roma.
Asier Illarramendi has seen limited opportunities at Real Madrid since his move from Real Sociedad two year ago.
Croatian Mateo Kovacic's fan base is growing in Italy, where he plies his trade with Inter Milan.
All of them come with the right pedigree.
Of the lot, Kovacic, 21, and Illarramendi, 25, seem to be Liverpool's best bets.
They fit the club's preference for youth, and they already understand the pressure of playing for a big club.
Reports suggest that the Reds have made, or are close to making multi-million pound bids to secure their services.
But, like in most cases, big clubs may swoop in and steal their targets from right under their noses. Or the players themselves may eventually decide that Anfield's not the place for them.
It's ultimately a game of wait-and-see. But it's also a game Liverpool must play for the next two months.
The prize is a midfielder they can't afford to do without.
LIVERPOOL’S OTHER NEW SIGNINGS
Midfielder (Man City)
Five and counting
Liverpool have signed Hoffenheim forward Roberto Firmino, their fifth signing since the end of what was a poor season for the Reds.
The deal is reportedly worth £21.3 million ($45m), but the fee could eventually rise to £28m, which would make him Liverpool's second most expensive player after Andy Carroll.
Formerly with Figueirense in Brazil, Firmino can play anywhere across the front three, and is currently on Copa America duty with Brazil.
Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre flew to Chile to get the deal done, and the transfer is still subject to a medical that will not take place until after Brazil have concluded their Copa campaign.
Firmino has scored 47 goals in 151 appearances during his four-and-a-half years in Germany and has scored four times in nine international caps, including last Sunday's Copa winner against Venezuela.
It has been a busy start to the transfer window for the Reds, with more expected to follow as strikers Carlos Bacca and Salomon Rondon are understood to be targets.
Manager Brendan Rodgers is keen to bring in another forward despite the arrival of England Under-21 international Danny Ings from Burnley, and the £32.5m release clause of Aston Villa's Christian Benteke is considered too high.
Therefore he has turned his attention to Bacca, the 28-year-old Colombian who scored 28 goals for Sevilla in Spain's La Liga last season, and Rondon, a Venezuela international who has 20 goals in 39 matches for Zenit St Petersburg.
The club feel the duo represent better value for money than Benteke, with reported fees of £20m and £15m, respectively.
Liverpool have already recruited Ings, Manchester City midfielder James Milner, Charlton defender Joe Gomez and Bolton goalkeeper Adam Bogdan.
In the absence of suspended Neymar, Firmino and Philippe Coutinho - now Liverpool team-mates - are set to start for Brazil in Saturday's Copa quarter-final against Paraguay.
- Wire Services.
6 Facts about firmino
1 Firmino's birth city of Maceio is the same as three-time World Cup winner Mario Zagallo, who won twice as a player and once as a coach.
2 In his one full season at Figueirense, the teenager helped his team to promotion to the top flight of Brazilian football.
3 The 23-year-old's first goal for Hoffenheim was in the 1-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in April, 2011.
4 He netted 16 goals and 12 assists in 33 appearances in 2013-14, his fourth Bundesliga season.
5 The first of his nine caps came against Turkey on Nov 12 last year. The first of his four Brazil goals, against Austria, was scored six days later.
6 He has played in 33 of Hoffenheim's 34 league fixtures each season for the last three seasons.