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Liverpool Nearing £25M Roberto Firmino Deal

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Reports from Brazil have been confirmed by English sources with ties to the club: Liverpool are closing on a deal for 23-year-old Hoffenheim star Roberto Firmino.

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Following a string of reports from Brazil’s O Globo claiming Liverpool were frontrunners to land 23-year-old star attacking midfielder and second striker Roberto Firmino, it seems increasingly certain the club’s interest in the player is very real and very serious. The club’s first four signings of the summer may have largely failed to raise excitement levels, but Firmino would be a real statement of intent.

Multiple English sources with ties to the club, including the Liverpool Echo, have confirmed earlier Brazilian reports that Liverpool’s representatives are in Chile, where the player is representing Brazil at Copa America 2015, and that negotiations are underway. Reports of a five-year deal agreed in principle with the player’s representatives may be jumping the gun, but Liverpool are reportedly hopeful a deal can be done for between £25-30M.

Earlier reports from Brazilian sources claimed the fee would be in a similar range—but in Euros instead of pounds—which does lead to some confusion over just how much the Hoffenheim player might end up costing Liverpool if they can complete the deal. That the club are trying to complete a deal for Firmino, though, appears at this stage to be fact, and those with links to both the player and Liverpool seem in agreement that is quite likely get done.

If Liverpool can pull it off, Firmino would become something of a statement of intent. The so-called marquee signing the club have repeatedly just missed out on in recent seasons. Already a star who has earned a place in Brazil’s starting eleven at the Copa, the last player Liverpool signed of a similar calibre—and who similarly appeared on the verge of becoming a superstar—was Luis Suarez. Since that signing, though, there have mostly been misses.

There have been buys that have worked out for the club since Suarez, of course, and none more so than fellow Brazilian Philippe Coutinho, but Coutinho arrived for a bargain fee after failing to make his mark at Inter. The talent was there for anyone who cared to look, but at the time his wasn’t anything like a proven talent. The same could be said for Daniel Sturridge, who injuries aside has made his purchase look a very shrewd bargain.

Firmino isn’t that kind of a signing. He's isn't a gamble on nascent or misused potential. He’s a proven young star with a price tag and expectations to match; a versatile, tenacious, technically outstanding attacker. That makes him a transfer target far closer to the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Diego Costa and Willian and Henrikh Mkhitaryan—all players Liverpool rather painfully missed out on in recent seasons. He is, in short, a signing that signals intent.

He’s also a signing who would instantly make Liverpool a much better side, even assuming Raheem Sterling soon completes his own £50M move to Manchester City. Liverpool fans who have tried to diminish Sterling’s talent and potential have at times come off a little foolish, but much of what City will be paying for in the case of Sterling will be his potential and his status as an English player. And right here, right now, Firmino is better.

Like Sterling, Firmino also has significant upside and can still get better, too. Now Liverpool just need to do the hard bit. The part they’ve struggled at far too often in recent seasons. They need to close the deal.