Liverpool edge closer to £25million deal for Brazil star Firmino
Liverpool are close to signing Hoffenheim's Brazilian international Roberto Firmino in a £25million deal.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is battling to complete the signing by next week and issue a genuine statement of intent following the club's disappointing end to the Premier League season.
Firmino is in Chile with the Brazil team at the Copa America yet talks are understood to be advanced, though reports he has agreed a five-year deal are premature.
Liverpool's interest in the attacking midfielder is serious, however, and Rodgers is keen to conclude a deal before the squad return for pre-season training in early July.
Last night Firmino said: "My future is in the hands of God. It's time to make the next step in my career but, at the moment, I'm concentrating on the Copa America."
Firmino will require a work permit, while there are thought to be issues concerning third-party ownership but Liverpool are growing confident of bringing him to Anfield. The player's agent, Roger Wittman, has confirmed that his client will be moving to England this summer.
Firmino, 23, has spent the past four-and-a-half years in Germany with Hoffenheim and established a reputation as a versatile attacker who can play in midfield or a front three.
He scored Brazil's winner in the 2-1 victory against Venezuela on Monday night to secure a place in the Copa America quarter-finals this weekend. His signing would represent significant backing for Rodgers, who was criticised after Liverpool missed out on a Champions League place and retained his job after crunch talks with the club.
Rodgers has frequently insisted that he needs "marquee signings" and guaranteed starters as he attempts to rebuild his squad this summer. Talks were held with Memphis Depay before the Dutch winger opted to join Manchester United.
Though James Milner has agreed a move to Anfield, Firmino's signing will reassure Liverpool supporters of the club's intent ahead of next season.
Liverpool are still confident of adding Nathaniel Clyne, though they are reluctant to pay Southampton the £15m asking price for the England defender. Southampton have rejected a bid of around £11m but a second offer is expected.
Seville's Carlos Bacca and Zenit St Petersburg's Salomon Rondon are also on the radar, though Liverpool's move for Firmino is the most advanced.
Manchester City are considering a third bid, which will be nearer Liverpool's strict £50m valuation, for winger Raheem Sterling.
The club's football development executive, Patrick Vieira, said: "If you go down and ask 10 people what they think about him (Sterling), I think nine would give you a positive answer. I would be part of the nine people because he's shown how good he is, how well he's been doing at Liverpool.
"If he is in the market, not just City would be interested in him. I think every big name will be linked with City because City is a big club in Europe. Players will want to join the club and have success." (© Daily Telegraph, London)