Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino battle prompts new Liverpool transfer question – Liverpool Echo

Jurgen Klopp extended both arms into the Norwich evening sky before turning to the Liverpool bench to celebrate.

Few things are quite as satisfying for a manager as a substitution paying instant dividend.

But there were further reasons for the Reds boss to be delighted with Roberto Firmino finding the net just four minutes after his introduction to edge Norwich City further towards an opening Premier League defeat.

And not just because it was a landmark 8,000th league goal in Liverpool’s history.

The strike was compelling evidence of an issue with which Klopp will be more than happy to contend in the coming weeks and months.

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Firmino, among the late returnees to the pre-season training camp having been on international duty during the summer, had been left out of the starting line-up for the opening game of the campaign for the first time under Klopp.

And while kicking his heels on the bench he’d seen his replacement, Diogo Jota, notch the first goal of the Reds campaign.

Small wonder, then, the beaming smile of delight as Firmino celebrated after finishing decisively under Norwich goalkeeper Tim Krul from Mohamed Salah’s swift ball across goal.

This will be a big season for the Brazilian, mindful that his regular starting role is now firmly under threat. Just like it will be a big season for Jota, aware his card will be marked by opponents having impressed during an injury-hampered debut Reds campaign.

It’s already clear they are each spurring on the other.

Last Sunday, Jota netted in the 1-1 friendly draw with Athletic Bilbao. The following day, Firmino responded by scoring twice in the 3-1 triumph against Osasuna.

With Salah ensconced on the right and Sadio Mane having rediscovered his verve on the opposite flank, the battle for the central attacking role between the two mainstays is likely to be fierce but friendly.

Of course, the real winner from this intense competition for number nine supremacy is Klopp, having four leading attacking talents to choose from for three places.

But last season underlined the quartet won’t always be fit and they won’t always be firing on top form.

And an almost full-strength squad – Liverpool didn’t even feel the need to include Thiago Alcantara or skipper Jordan Henderson on the bench on Saturday as they regain sharpness – is a luxury Klopp acknowledges will be the exception rather than the norm.

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Both Jota and Firmino will be needed. Indeed, there will be many times where the duo are in the same starting line-up as the Reds boss mixes and matches his resources, the forwards offering something different in their skillset and approach.

Whether all this will be enough, though, is the question Liverpool and Klopp will consider over the remaining few weeks of the transfer window.

Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi were both among the substitutes at Carrow Road, but it was telling that 18-year-old Harvey Elliott, making only his third Premier League appearance, was to whom Klopp turned when determining a late run-out with the game safely in the bag.

Elliott emerged as a surprise midfield option during pre-season but is more accustomed to a wing role and will most likely have opportunities on the right when required.

Minamino, while happy playing down the middle, has produced his best Liverpool performances on the left, but with that also a preferred position of Mane and Jota, chances could be at a premium.

And while it wouldn’t be a summer without Origi being linked with a move away from Anfield, there is a growing feeling he would be best served heading for pastures new.

Signing a new attacking player is not a necessity if everyone is available. Saturday was overwhelming proof of that.

But the competition that’s already bringing more out of Firmino and Jota has underlined another hungry new face with a slightly different profile does more than just increase options. It can benefit everyone.

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