Former Liverpool star Firmino joins Mosimane's old club Al-Ahli Saudi

In a promotional picture released by Al-Ahli Saudi, former Liverpool star Roberto Firmino is presented as their new signing.
In a promotional picture released by Al-Ahli Saudi, former Liverpool star Roberto Firmino is presented as their new signing.
Image: Al-Ahli Saudi FC/Twitter

Brazilian striker Roberto Firmino has joined Pitso Mosimane's former club Al-Ahli Saudi FC on a free transfer after his departure from Liverpool.

Former Bafana Bafana, Mamelodi Sundowns and Al Ahly (Cairo) coach Mosimane left Al-Ahli under a cloud last month after leading their promotion as champions of the second tier Yelo League. The coach alleged he and his fellow South African technical staff members had not been paid since January.

Mosimane has since joined UAE Pro League team Al-Wahda. Al-Ahli are yet to appoint a new coach.

Strangely, one of the reasons sources close to Mosimane provided for his departure was that Ahli were subject to a Fifa transfer ban for two seasons. It is unclear whether the now Saudi Pro League (SPL) club has managed to resolve that issue, but the coup signing of former Liverpool star Firmino is a big step towards the one-time big three team in that country restoring itself to glory.

The club confirmed the signing of Firmino, who once formed a fearsome combination in Liverpool's three-striker front line with Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah, on its social media.

“I always played for big teams, now I'm in Al-Ahli,” the Brazilian said in a video on Al-Ahli's twitter account.

The 31-year-old signed a three-year contract and will team up with goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, who also left the Premier League after three seasons with Chelsea.

Firmino joined Liverpool in 2015 and helped the team win the Champions League, FA Cup and Premier League titles.

The Brazil international bade farewell to Anfield in late May, scoring his 111th goal for the club in their last game of the season.

Firmino joins a long list of high-profile players who have moved to the SPL in recent weeks, with the likes of Ballon d'Or winner Karim Benzema, N'Golo Kante and Ruben Neves following in the footsteps of Cristiano Ronaldo, who moved to Al-Nassr in January.

Last month, the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) announced a Sports Clubs Investment and Privatisation Project involving league champions Al-Ittihad, Al-Ahli, Al-Nassr and Al-Hilal.

PIF owns 75% of each of the four clubs, while their respective non-profit foundations own 25% of each.

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