“No longer being able to hold on to Roberto Firmino was foreseeable considering his ability and the development he has made, particularly in the last 24 months,” said Alexander Rosen. The director of football is left with mixed emotions following the 23-year-old’s transfer. “TSG rely on transfers like this in order to generate revenue and help secure the club financially. From a sporting point of view, his departure is a real loss,” explained Rosen, who is nevertheless convinced that Hoffenheim still have an exciting squad at their disposal for the new season even without Firmino. The income from the transfer put the club in a position to invest in the team, something they have done “with much deliberation and with clear goals – this investing already began in the 2014 summer transfer window,” said Rosen.
“Particularly in this era of financial fair play, it’s even more important for clubs like TSG to discover young talents and develop them in order to survive at the top level both from a sporting and economic point of view,” said Hoffenheim shareholder Dietmar Hopp. “Firmino’s transfer is testament to the path we have been on in recent years, which still needs to be intensified. Clubs like TSG 1899 Hoffenheim have to have to take this road in order to establish themselves in the Bundesliga,” added Hopp.
The huge demand for Firmino, who was being eyed by many top European clubs, is something Hopp sees as an “accolade” for the work that TSG are doing both on and off the pitch. The player, who signed from Brazilian second-division side Figueirense in winter 2010, has been developed “patiently and carefully” at Hoffenheim, according to Hopp. “He hasn’t just turned into a phenomenal Bundesliga player here; he has also become a Brazil international.” The revenue from the transfer signifies another step on the way for TSG to be able to support themselves financially. “The club being able to convince Firmino to stay last year was sensible for both parties in that regard,” noted Hopp.
Roberto Firmino is of course looking forward to the new challenge, but saying goodbye wasn’t easy for him. “I have a lot to thank TSG and people of this region for. I became the person I am today here. It has been a very emotional time for me in Kraichgau,” said Firmino. “My child was born here, I became a Brazil international here and I have a lot of friends here, so there are plenty of reasons for me to visit again and I will never forget my time in Hoffenheim.”
Roberto Firmino Barbosa de Oliveira made 140 Bundesliga appearances for TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, scoring 38 times. He shone as an assister of goals in particular during the two most recent campaigns, having a hand in the most goals for his club in both seasons. The hard-running attacker also netted nine goals in his eleven DFB Cup matches. Firmino made his debut for the Brazil national team in November 2014 and is now a regular in Carlos Dunga’s side. The Selecao reached the quarterfinals of the recent Copa America, where they were knocked out by Paraguay.